“Some One Is Watching Your Light”

"…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2.15)

     INTRO.: A song which reminds us of the fact that as Christians we can let our lights in the world is "Some One Is Watching Your Light." The text was written by Ina Duley Ogdon (1872-1964). She is perhaps best known for the lyrics to "Brighten the Corner Where You Are." In an article "Hymn Writers, Compilers and Publishers: Their Illinois Connection," at the Lincoln Christian College website, she is identified with the "Stone-Campbell Movement." The tune was composed by William E. M. Hackleman, who was born at Orange, IN, on Feb. 28, 1868, and was taught vocal music from the age of fifteen. Educated at Central Normal College in Indiana and at the Toronto, Canada, Conservatory of Music, where he studied voice and composition with the noted Italian composer Francesco D’Auria, he entered the field of religious music in 1892, leading singing in evangelistic meetings at Indianapolis, IN, Pittsburgh, PA, Boston, MA, Cincinnati, OH, and St. Louis, MO. In 1896, he founded the Hackleman Music Company in Indianapolis and began publication of church and Sunday school music, including The Gospel Call, Silver and Gold, Twentieth Century Songs, and dozens of lesser-known hymnals. On Sept. 12, 1899, he married Pearl D. Conner.

     With Allan Wilson, a well-known and successful evangelist, for whose meetings he may have served as song director, Hackleman edited Praises to the Prince around 1904. This hymnbook, his own Gloria in Excelsis of 1905, and Hymni Ecclesiae (or Hymns of the Church) of 1911 were all jointly published by Hackleman in Indianapolis and The Christian Publishing Co. of St. Louis. Gloria in Excelsis was one of the most ambitious ventures in hymnbook publishing of its time. An attempt to build a hymnbook in the "historic tradition," it was a large volume of 624 pages, with sentences for opening service, invocation, responsive sentences, an order for communion and baptism, Psalm selections, and responsive readings. The 814 songs with music, divided topically, were followed by fifteen pages of doxologies, benedictions, ancient chants, and canticles. The book closed with a tune and first line index. Very expensive and too liturgical for most churches, it was also offered in an abridged edition of 503 numbers with most of the quasi-liturgical material omitted. In 1909, Hackleman led the song services at the Centennial Convention at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, PA, for an estimated crowd of 30,000.

     Most of Hackleman’s own compositions are no longer used, at least among churches of Christ. Ellis J. Crum did include in Sacred Selections for the Church a tune which Hackleman provided for Joseph Grigg’s "Jesus, And Shall It Ever Be." The lead begins with tenors, moves to the basses, switches to the altos, and ends with the sopranos. It is a nice melody, but the arrangement is probably beyond reach of a lot of congregations.  In some denominational books that I possess, there are an arrangement by Hackleman of "I Think of a City" with text by Tuttle and tune by Clark, and melodies for "Others, Lord, Yes, Others," and "Speed Away." After 1911, Hackleman’s activities are difficult to trace. "Some One Is Watching Your Light" was copyrighted by him in 1915 and was later owned by the Standard Publishing Co. He was editor-in-chief for the Twentieth Century Hymnal Committee, helped to edit The Excell Hymnal in 1925 with Hamp Sewell and Edwin O. Excell, and then alone edited Excell’s The American Church and School Hymnal of 1927. His death occurred in an automobile accident while travelling to the Illinois State Convention at Springfield, IL, on Oct. 2. 1927.  The oldest hymnbook in which I have seen this song is the 1933 Favorite Hymns edited by J. E. Sturgis and published by Standard Publishing Co.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the only other one where I have seen it is the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson and published by the Gospel Advocate Co.

      The song encourages Christians to be lights in the world.

I. Stanza 1 says that we can be lights to those who are lost in sorrow
and sin
"Down in the valley of sorrow and sin,
Some one is lost in the darkness of night,
Someone that you to your Savior may win;
Some one is watching, is watching your light!"
 A. The Bible teaches that all responsible human beings have sinned: Rom. 3.23
 B. Sin is often symbolized by the darkness of night: Jn. 3.19-20
 C. However, these souls need to be won to the Savior: Prov. 11.30

II. Stanza 2 says that we can be lights to those who are weak
"Long is the journey and some one is weak;
Some one if tempted may fall in the fight.
Some one will win if His promise you speak:
Some one is watching, is watching your light!"
 A. There are always going to be those who are weak: 1 Cor. 11.30
 B. Those who are week seem to have a greater temptation to fall in the fight: Jas. 1.14-15
 C. However, we may help such a one by speaking at the appropriate time: Acts 4.20

III. Stanza 3 says that we can be lights to those who are in the wrong
"Touched by the story of Christ and His love,
Some one will turn from the wrong to the right,
Looking for guidance to heaven above;
Some one is watching, is watching your light!"
 A. The basic drawing factor of the gospel message is the story of Christ and His love: 2 Cor. 5.14-15
 B. It was this message that Peter preached as he called on people to be converted or turn again: Acts 3.14-19
 C. This message provides guidance from heaven above because it is God-breathed: 2 Tim. 3.16-17

IV. Stanza 4 says that we can be lights to those who desire to have a home in heaven
"On that glad morning when all shall arise,
Saved by the infinite power of His might,
Some one will greet you at home in the skies;
Some one is watching, is watching your light!"
 A. There will come a glad morning when all shall arise: 1 Cor. 15.52
 B. Some of those who shall arise will have been saved by the infinite power of His might and be raised to the resurrection of life: Jn. 5.28-29
 C. Those so raised will be given an eternal home in the skies: Jn. 14.1-3, 1 Thess. 4.16-17

     CONCL.: The chorus continues to emphasize our need to shine as lights:
"Watching your light! watching your light!
Some one is watching, is watching your light!
O does it shine with a radiance bright?
Some one is watching, is watching your light!"
Once when I was young I was looking at some songs in our hymnbook to see if I could find one that my mother did not know. She knew every one that I tried. So I took out an old copy of Christian Hymns No. 1 which I just happened to have, opened it at random to this song, which I had never seen before, and asked if she knew it. Yes, she did. In fact, she said that she had sung it in college until she was tired of it. It is not in any books currently used among us, but with that memory, I doubt that I could ever grow tired of singing, "Some One Is Watching Your Light."


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