“Open My Eyes That I May See”

"OPEN MY EYES, THAT I MAY SEE"
"Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law" (Ps. 119:18)

     INTRO.: A song which expresses the desire that God would open our eyes that we might behold wondrous things out of His law is "Open My Eyes, That I May See" (#126 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #65 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Scott) was composed both by Clara (not Charles, as erroneously appears in some books) H. Fiske Scott, who was born at Elk Grove in Cook County, IL, on Dec. 3, 1841, the daughter of Abel and Sarah Rockwell Jones Fiske.  In 1856 Clara attended the first musical institute in Chicago, conducted by C. M. Cady, who later formed the music publishing firm of Root and Cady with brothers E. T. and George Frederick Root (1820-1895). George was the author and composer of "Why Do You Wait, Dear Brother?"

     In 1859, Miss Fiske began teaching music in the Ladies’ Seminary at Lyons, IA. Two years later, in 1861, she married Henry Clay Scott and returned to the Chicago area where she became an acquaintance of Horatio Richmond Palmer (1834-1907). Palmer was the author and composer of "Yield Not to Temptation." He greatly encouraged her in creative writing of hymns and tunes, helping her to publish many of her songs, and she contributed a large number of hymns and tunes to various collections, as well as writing numerous piano pieces in sheet music form. Unfortunately, only one of her many songs is still in popular use.

     In addition, Mrs. Scott published three hymnbooks of her own, The Royal Anthem Book in 1882, one of the first hymnbooks published by a woman; Happy Songs: Truth in Song for Lovers of Truth in 1896; and Short Anthems in 1897. The exact date of the writing of "Open My Eyes, That I May See" is unknown. It first appeared in Best Hymns No. 2, published in 1895 by the Evangelical Publishing Co. of Chicago and compiled by Harold F. Sayles and Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929). Hoffman was the author and composer of "I Must Tell Jesus." Mrs. Scott was tragically killed when she was thrown from a buggy by a runaway horse while on a return trip to Iowa visiting friends in Dubuque, and died there on June 21, 1897, the day after the accident.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Open My Eyes, That I May See" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson and the 1975 Supplement to the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 originally published by Jorgenson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel
Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1977 edition of the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

     The song asks God to open all our senses to learn and do His will.

I. In stanza 1, God is asked to open our eyes
"Open my eyes, that I may see Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key That shall unclasp, and set me free."
 A. Some people, although able to see physically, refuse to open their spiritual eyes, while others are blessed because they see with their eyes: Matt. 13:13-17
 B. What we need to be looking for is the truth that is found in God’s word: Jn. 17:17
 C. This truth is the key which sets us free: Jn. 8:32

II. In stanza 2, God is asked to open our ears
"Open my ears, that I may hear Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave-notes fall on my ear, Everything false will disappear."
 A. Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and the Father wants us to hear Him: Matt 17:5
 B. In Sacred Selections, Ellis J. Crum changed "voices of truth" to "Thy word of truth," I suppose to avoid the possibility that someone might think that God speaks to us directly today in a still small voice, but the only real "voices of truth" that we can hear come from those teaching the word of God: Rev. 1:3
 C. And it is by using the truth as our standard that we shall be able to discern what is false and what is true, like the Bereans, who searched the scriptures: Acts 17:17

III. In stanza 3 God is asked to open our mouths and hearts
"Open my mouth, and let me bear Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart, and let me prepare Love with Thy children thus to share."
 A. If our lives are truly guided by the word of God, then our mouths will want to proclaim it at every opportunity: Eph. 6:18-20
 B. In this, we shall be like the Thessalonians, who sounded out the word of the Lord in every place: 1 Thess. 1:8
 C. However, it is not enough just to have an open mouth; we must also have a heart that is opened by love of the brethren: 1 Pet 1:22

IV. In stanza 4 God is asked to open our minds
"Open my mind, that I may read More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead? Only for light from Thee I plead."
 A. We need to make sure that our minds are open to God’s message if we are going to love the Lord with all our mind: Mk. 12:30
 B. Yet, the only way that we can be open to God’s message is to read it in His written word, the scriptures: 2 Tim. 3:16-17
 C. In this way, we shall have light for our pathway: Ps. 119:105

V. In stanza 5 God is asked to open our way
"Open my way, that I may bring Trophies of grace to Christ, my King;
Echoed in love Thy word shall out-ring, Sweet as the note the angels sing."
 A. If we have the right attitude toward God’s word, He will open to us the way that leads to everlasting life: Matt. 7:13-14
 B. One aspect of traveling that way is to bring trophies of grace to Christ, our King, by leading others to Christ: 1 Cor. 3:5-10
 C. By living according to God’s way, our lives will radiate to others the light of the world: Matt. 5:14-16

     CONCL.: The chorus sets forth the requisites on our part for us to be open to God in all things.
"Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see:
Open my eyes (etc.), illumine me, Savior divine!"
The original last two words of the chorus were "Spirit divine," but almost all of our books have changed that to "Savior divine." Some have objected to this song because they think it pictures people just sitting and waiting for God to speak directly to their hearts. However, it does not require God to act in some direct, mysterious, miraculous way but simply to speak to me through His word for Him to answer my prayer, "Open My Eyes, That I May See."

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2 thoughts on ““Open My Eyes That I May See”

  1. hi! i just stumbled on your blog and now i have become an avid reader. thanks for sharing such wonderful ideas.
    i do love worship hymns and my favorite is <a href=http://www.bethoumyvision.co.uk/>be thou my vision</a>. keep up the good work!

    Reply
  2. Wonderful! I love singing in my church choir, I love hymns, I love hymnbooks – and I had no idea about this website. What a blessing! Thank you for this!

    My choir director has a gift for explaining hymns, the text, the music, the context in the service; your website expands on this, and I’m grateful for your service.

    Reply

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