"IS YOUR LAMP STILL BURNING?"
"…In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2.15)
INTRO.: A song which shows that one aspect of our work as Christians is to shine as lights in the world is "Is Your Lamp Still Burning?" (#88 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-1907). A native and resident of Baltimore, MD, she also authored such well known songs as "Give Me the Bible," "Jesus Saves," and "We Have an Anchor." The tune for "Is Your Lamp Still Burning?" was composed by Isaiah Baltzel (1832-1893). A hymnbook editor who often worked with Edmund S. Lorenz and compiled Golden Songs, Holy Voices, and The Master’s Praise, he is best remembered for his song "I Want to Be a Worker." I have been unable to find a date of origin for "Is Your Lamp Still Burning?" but I do know that it appeared at #421 in The Otterbein Hymnal, copyrighted in 1892 (some sources say 1890) by Lorenz. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; as well as Sacred Selections.
The song encourages each Christian to keep his lamp burning to shine as a light in the world.
I. Stanza 1 reminds us of our need to let or lights shine
"Are you Christ’s light bearer? Of His joy a sharer?
Is this dark world fairer For your cheering ray?
Is your beacon lighted, Guiding souls benighted
To the land of perfect day?"
A. Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Jn. 8.12
B. However, Christians reflect His light to others as they let the cheering rays of their own lights shine: Matt. 5.14-16
C. The Lord’s purpose in this is to guide souls benighted to the land of perfect day: Acts 8.4, 2 Tim. 2.2
II. Stanza 2 reminds us of our need to remain faithful to the Lord
"Is your heart warm glowing, With His love o’erflowing,
And His goodness showing More and more each day?
Are you pressing onward With Christ’s faithful vanguard,
In the safe and narrow way?"
A. To help us in letting our lights shine, more and more each day our hearts need to be warm glowing with the love of Christ toward others: Eph. 5.1-2
B. With this attitude we can keep pressing faithfully onward: Phil. 3.12-14
C. Of course, the way in which we should be pressing onward is the safe, strait, and narrow way: Matt. 7.13-14
III. Stanza 3 reminds us of our need to watch for our Lord’s return
"Keep your altars burning, Wait your Lord’s returning,
While your heart’s deep yearning Draws Him ever near;
With His radiance spendid Shall your light be blended
When His glory shall appear?"
A. One reason for letting our lights shine is that, like the Thessalonians, we must wait for God’s Son from heaven: 1 Thess. 1.9-10
B. In so doing, we can draw the Lord ever nearer to us: Jas. 4.8
C. Then, when His glory shall appear, our light will be blended with His radiance splended because we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3.1-3
CONCL.: The chorus continues to encourage us to make sure that our lamps are trimmed and burning so that the world can be made brighter by its cheering ray and we can be ever waiting for our Lord’s returning:
"O, brother is your lamp trimmed and burning?
Is the world made brighter by its cheering ray?
Are you ever waiting for your Lord’s returning?
Are you watching day by day?"
One function of our singing in worship is to teach and admonish one another. This we can do as we ask each other "Is Your Lamp Still Burning?"