“Ye Are the Light of the World”

"Ye are the light of the world…Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick…" (Matt. 5.14-15)

     INTRO.: A song which helps to explain what it means for Christians to let their lights shine before men is "Ye Are The Light Of The World" (#453 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #87 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Pearl Hatchett, which was apparently the penname or perhaps maiden name of Pearl H. F. Thomas (1879-1963). It was arranged and the tune was composed both by Emmett Sidney Dean, who was born in Conecuh County, AL, in 1876. Becoming a well-known singing school teacher in the southern states, he was a member of the Methodist Church and for many years lived in Waco, TX, where he was president of the Trio Music Company,

     This firm was originally organized by John M. Greer, John Edmond Thomas, and Franklin Lycurgus Eiland who was a member of the church of Christ, but others, such as Dean and H. W. Elliot, were later added to the company. "Ye Are The Light Of The World" was first published in 1898. In older books it is identified as "Used by permission of Trio Music Company," and accompanied by a note, "Dedicated to J. B. Fletcher," who was a preacher of Hico, TX. Along with Eiland, Dean edited the popular hymnal The Gospel Gleaner in 1902. Perhaps Dean’s most famous melody is the one used with James W. Acuff’s "Just Over In The Glory Land," copyrighted in 1906. After Eiland’s death in 1909, Dean became editor of the firm’s periodical The Musical Trio.

     Another song that has appeared in some of our books for which Dean provided the music was "Press Along to Glory Land," beginning, "O ransomed souls, with joyous song," with lyrics by James Rowe. Dean copyrighted it in 1911, but the copyright was later assigned to John T. Benson, Jr. "Ye Are The Light Of The World" has appeared in many collections published by members of the church of Christ. Its popularity is due in part to its being carried in a series of hymnbooks put out by the Firm Foundation Co., beginning with the 1940/1944 (New) Wonderful Songs, edited by G. H. P. Showalter and Thomas Seth Cobb. After publishing many hymn collections, outstanding music text books, and over 500 songs, Dean died in 1951.

      Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, in addition to The (New) Wonderful Songs, the song appeared in the 1938 Spiritual Melodies edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat..

     The song mentions some things that Christians must do to be the kind of lights that God wants.

I. According to stanza 1, Christians must not hide their lights
"Oh, Christian, do not hide your light! For ye are the light of the world;
But keep it trimmed and burning bright, For ye are the light of the world."
 A. Since those who are still in sin cannot be expected to be lights in the world, the song is addressed to Christians: Acts 11.26
 B. Unfortunately, Christians can hide their lights if their lives are filled with sin: 1 Thess. 5.5-8
 C. Therefore, to keep our lamps all trimmed and bright, we must stay away from sin and live holy lives: Tit. 2.11-12

II. According to stanza 2, Christians are to shine their lights to bring others to the Lord
"Go, show to all the path of right, For ye are the light of the world;
Go bring the straying back to light, For ye are the light of the world."
 A. In order to shine our lights before others, we must go to them: Mk. 16.15-16
 B. We must let the world know that there is such a thing as the path of right: Matt. 7.13-14
 C. Our lights shine to bring the straying back to light by holding forth the word of life: Phil. 2.12-16

III. According to stanza 3, Christians are to keep their lights from burning low
"Oh, do not let your light burn low, For ye are the light of the world;
But keep it bright and onward go, For ye are the light of the world."
 A. If we fail to keep ourselves prepared for the Lord’s return, our lights will begin to burn low: Matt. 25.1-8
 B. Rather, we need to keep our lights bright by having God’s word in our hearts and following Jesus Christ: Ps. 119.105, Jn. 8.12
 C. With our lights kept bright we can onward go toward the prize: Phil. 3.13-14

     CONCL.: The chorus continues to emphasize the importance of our being lights in the world.
"For ye are the light of the world, For ye are the light of the world;
Then keep your lamps all trimmed and bright, For ye are the light of the world."
As we live and work in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, may each child of God remember the words of Jesus, "Ye Are The Light Of The World."


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