"TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS"
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory…" (Heb. 2.9)
INTRO.: A song that is designed to help us see Jesus as the One who was made a little lower than angels for the suffering of death that we might be saved is "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" (#467 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written and the tune (Lemmel or Heavenly Vision) was composed both by Helen Howarth Lemmel, who was born at Wardle near Manchester, England, on Nov. 14, 1863. In 1873, at the age of nine she came to the United States with her family. Her father was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister. The family lived for a short time in Mississippi and then settled in Wisconsin. Possessing a fine voice, Helen studied singing both in the United States and, for four years, in Germany. Following this, she gave concerts acorss the Midwest and travelled with a woman’s quartet on the Chautauqua Circuit for a number of years in the early 1900’s.
After teaching voice privately in studios at Milwaukee and Madison, WI, Helen taught voice at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL, and at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, CA. After 1904, she settled in the Pacific Northwest and made her home at Seattle, WA, where she was a member of the Ballard Baptist Church. In 1918, when she was 54 years old, she saw a missionary tract entitled "Focus" by Lillian Trotter who wrote, "So then, turn your eyes upon HIM. Look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange, new dimness." Based on these words, Helen immediately penned the chorus along with the music and within a week had completed the stanzas. The song was first published in a pamphlet entitled "The Heavenly Vision" later that year by C. C. Birchard in London, England.
The song’s first publication in a hymnbook was in the British National Sunday School Union’s 1922 Glad Songs, which contained 66 other songs by Mrs. Lemmel. At the Keswick Bible Conference of 1922 in northern England, it was introduced and became immensely popular. The song received a U. S. copyright in 1922 and was later assigned to Singspiration Inc. It first appeared in the United States in a song collection called Gospel Truth in Song, No. 3, published in 1924 by Harry D. Clarke in Chicago, IL. In all, Mrs. Lemmel produced over 500 hymns and poems, as well as a book for children entitled Story of the Bible and many children’s musical pieces, continuing to write even in her later years despite becoming blind when she was 90. Her death occurred at Seattle on Nov. 1, 1961, just a few days before her 98th birthday.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song may be found in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard; in addition to Hymns for Worship. The chorus alone, without the lovely stanzas, appears in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.
The hymn is an invitation to a life of deeper commitment to Christ.
I. From stanza 1 we learn that we must look to the Savior for the light of salvation
"O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free."
A. For those who are in darkness, the light of the world is Jesus: Jn. 8.12, 1 Jn. 1.5-7
B. Therefore, it is with the eyes of faith that we can look unto the Lord and be saved: Isa. 45.22, Heb. 12.2
C. Those who thus turn to Him will have life more abundant and free: Jn. 10.10
II. From stanza 2 we learn that we must give our lives in submission to Him
"Through death into life everlasting He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion–For more than conquerors we are!"
A. Because Jesus came to bring God’s light, we need to follow in His footsteps: 1 Pet. 2.21
B. When we thus submit to Him, sin has no more dominion over us: Rom. 6.12-14
C. Those who look unto the light of Jesus Christ will be more than conquerors: Rom. 8.37-39
III. From stanza 3 we learn that we must tell others about the light of His word
"His word shall not fail you–He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell."
A. To believe on Jesus is to accept Him fully and trust in Him completely as God’s divine Son: Jn. 3.16, 8.24
B. Those who have believed must go to a world that is dying all might hear the preaching of Christ, the hope of glory: Col. 1.27-29
C. The gospel message of salvation is that those who accept and obey may be saved: Mk. 16.15-16
CONCL.: The chorus exhorts us to focus our spiritual sight upon Christ to help us in these areas.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace."
You can be saved and enjoy more fully the fellowship of Christ throughout the remainder of your life if you will "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."