Theme Song
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

History of the theme song
John B. Dykes (1823-1876)
John H. Newman (1801-1890)   

John H. Newman, 1833 (verses 1-3);
Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr., Hymnal Companion (verse 4).

Music: “Lux Benigna,” John B. Dykes, 1865

Alternate tune:
“Sandon,” Charles H. Purday, 1857


John Henry Newman


Born : February 21, 1801, in London, England.
Died : August 11, 1890, Oratory of St. Philip Neri , Edgbaston, Birmingham, England .
Buried : Rednal , Warwickshire, England .

Newman, the eldest son of a prosperous London banker, had begun his ministry at Oxford University. In his travels in 1833, he had been seriously ill in Sicily and had grave concerns about his work in England. The uncertainty of his future work hung heavily on him. His faith in the divine purpose of God is evident in this hymn written under these circumstances.

In the summer of 1833, John Henry Newman, a young minister of the Church of England, was a passenger on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Because there was no wind, the ship was becalmed in a fog bank for a week in the Straits of Bonifacio between Corsica and Sardinia. The usually brilliant landscape of that area was obscured by the motionless fog. Lost were the rocky shores of Sardinia on one side and the stark perpendicular cliffs of Corsica on the other. In his own words :

Newman on board ship

Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, “I have a work to do in England.” I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services.

At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, “Lead, Kindly Light,” which have since become so well known.

When he returned to his church at Oxford, England, he became a part of a group of Anglican ministers who sought diligently to bring renewal to the church. A dozen years later, his intense concern caused him to leave the Church of England and become a Roman Catholic.

Newman was ordained a Catholic priest at Rome in 1846. Except for four brief years at the Dublin Catholic University, he spent the rest of his life at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri near Birmingham, England.

Pope Leo XIII made Newman a cardinal in 1879. He remained one of the most revered Catholic leaders in England until his death in 1890.

The music so fittingly wedded to these words was written by the noted English composer John B. Dykes. He wrote the tune in the summer of 1865 while walking through the Strand, the famous theater and shopping district in London.

The popularity of the hymn was quite surprising to Newman, who quickly attributed its success to Dykes' tune. The composer named the tune Lux Benigna, meaning "kindly light."

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