“Light of the World”

"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (Jn. 9.5)

     INTRO.: A song which teaches and admonishes us to look unto Jesus as the light by which we can be guided from life through death to our eternal home is "Light of the World." The text was written by Mrs. Laura Ormiston Dibdin Chant, who was born at Woolastone in Gloucestershire, England, in 1848, the daughter of F. W. Dibdin. For some time she was a nurse in the Sophia Wards of London Hospital and in 1877 marred Thomas Chant of Bridgewater. Three of her hymns are cited by John Julian as being in common use in 1908. They are "Beyond the Far Horizon" and "Silence, O Earth, and Listen to the Song," as well as this one, which was penned in June of 1901 at the request of S. Collier, Superintendent of the Central Wesleyan Mission in Manchester, England. Collier had told her how fond the men were of John Newman’s hymn "Lead, Kindly Light," but that it was not an adequate expression of their feelings, so he asked her to provide something in imitation of it that would be as tender but gladder than Newman’s hymn. It was first printed as a broadsheet and from there was included in the Methodist Hymn Book of 1904.

     The tune (Sandon or Landon) for which it was intended had been composed by Charles Henry Purday (1799-1885). Originally used with Newman’s "Lead, Kindly Light," it was first published in either Purday’s 1857 Church and Home Tune Book or his 1860 Church and Home Metrical Psalter and Hymnal. In many of our books, the same tune is also used with John Campbell’s "Unto the Hills" although other tunes have been composed for it.   Mrs. Chant died in 1923. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Light of the World" appeared in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 (in an arrangement for male quartet) both edited by E. L. Jorgenson.

     The song points us to Jesus Christ as the light that can lead us from sin to God.

I. Stanza 1 says that He came to be our Morning Star
"Light of the world! Faint were our weary feet With wandring far;
But Thou didst come, our lonely hearts to greet, Our Morning Star.
And Thou didst bid us lift our gaze on high,
And see the glory of the glowing sky."
 A. Our feet were weary with wandering far because like the lost sheep we had gone astray: Lk. 15.4
 B. However, Jesus Christ came to bring light that would shine in the darkness and show us the way: Jn. 1.1-4
 C. Thus, He enable us to lift our gaze on high and see the glory of the morning star that rises in our hearts: 2 Pet. 1.19

II. Stanz 2 says that He came to give us sight
"In days long past we missed our homeward way, We could not see;
Blind were our hopes–our feet were bound to stray–How blind to Thee!
But Thou dist pity, Lord, our gloomy plight,
And Thou didst touch our eyes and give them sight."
 A. Because we were lost in the darkness of sin and could not see, we missed that strait and narrow way that leads to life: Matt. 7.13-14
 B. Therefore, we were spiritually blinded by the god of this world: 2 Cor. 4.3-4
 C. Yet, Christ took pity on our plight and provided that we might regain our sight just as He touched the eyes of those who were physically blind so that they could see: Matt. 9.27-30

III. Stanza 3 says that He came to show the way to His eternal home
"Where is death’s sting, where grave thy victory? Where all the pain?
Now that thy King the veil that hung o’er thee Hath rent in twain.
Light of the world, we hear Thee bid us come,
To light and love, in Thine eternal home."
 A. To those who come to Christ, death loses its sting and the grave its victory: 1 Cor. 15.54-57
 B. This is due to the fact that just as the veil of the temple was rent in two when Jesus died, He has rent in twain the veil that stands between us and death: Matt. 27.51, Heb. 1.19-22
 C. In this way, He has shed light upon the way that leads to eternal life: 1 Jn. 5.11-13

     CONCL.: Jesus used many figures of speech in the scriptures to describe Himself and what He offers to sinful mankind–the bread of life, the living water, the vine–and many of our songs draw upon these figures of speech to help us understand the blessings that can be found in Christ. Most of us know what it is like to try to find our way when it is dark and we cannot see. In a world of sin, characterized by darkness, it is good to know that Jesus Christ, whom we follow, is the "Light of the World."


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