“I’ll Be a Sunbeam for Him”

“O LORD,…let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might…” (Judg. 5:31)

     INTRO.:  A song which expresses the desire of those who love the Lord to be as the sun which goes forth in its might is “I’ll Be a Sunbeam for Him.”  The text was written by Nellie Talbot, who was born around 1871.  Not much information is available about her, but it is said that while racking her brain for material to use in her Sunday school class in rural Missouri, she thought to herself, “How can you say there’s nothing to teach about when you have the sun and the sky and the trees and the flowers!”  This song was the result.  The tune (Sunbeam) was composed by Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921).  The song was published in 1900 and dedicated to Excell’s grandson, Edwin O. Excell Jr.  The original copyrighted was owned by Excell, but it was renewed in 1928 by the Hope Publishing Co. 

     Excell wrote the words and composed the music for “Since I Have Been Redeemed” and “Hiding;” provided tunes for Susan Warner’s “Jesus Bids Us Shine,” Mrs. S. M. I. Henry’s “I Know My Heavenly Father Knows,” Jonathan B. Atchinson’s “In the Shadow of His Wings” and “Let Him In,” Eliza E. Hewitt’s “There’s a Pardon Full and Sweet,” and Johnson Oatman Jr.’s “Count Your Blessings;” and made the modern arrangement of the familiar melody used with John Newton’s “Amazing Grace.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “I’ll Be a Sunbeam for Him” appeared with the chorus only in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson

     As with other children’s songs, the chorus seems to have taken on a life of its own.  Christian Hymns No. 3, even though it also has the chorus only, has two added stanzas as arranged by the editor:  2. “A Christian, a Christian…;” and 3. “A worker, a worker….”   In addition, it says: “May also use: A learner, a teller, a savor, a lover, etc.”  The entire text may be found in the 1957 All American Church Hymnal from John T. Benson Publishing Co.; the 1966 Songs that Live from Park View Press; the 1967 Favorite Hymns from Tabernacle Publishing Co.; the 1972 Living Hymns from Encore Publications Inc.; and the 1980 Praises We Sing from Christian Light Publications Inc.

     The song encourages everyone, especially children, to live so that they shine for Jesus in this life.

I. Stanza 1 says that Jesus wants us to shine for Him
“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, To shine for Him each day;
In every way try to please Him, At home, at work, at play.”
 A. Being a sunbeam suggests the idea of being lights in the world: Phil. 2:15
 B. Jesus wants His followers to let their lights shine for Him: Matt. 5:16
 C. Therefore, it should be our desire to please the Lord in everything we do: 1 Thess. 4:1

II. Stanza 2 says that one way to shine for Jesus is to be loving
“Jesus wants me to be loving, And kind to all I see,
Showing how pleasant and happy His little one can be.”
 A. Jesus wants us to be loving toward our fellowman: Matt. 22:39
 B. If we truly love others, we will try to be kind to everyone we see: Eph. 4:32
 C. This will show others how that we truly rejoice in the Lord: Phil. 4:4

III. Stanza 3 says that in order to shine for Jesus we must keep our hearts from sin
“I will ask Jesus to help me To keep my heart from sin,
Ever reflecting His goodness, and Always shine for Him.”
 A. Of course, in order to shine for Jesus, we must keep our hearts from sin: 1 Jn. 2:1
 B. Rather, we must strive to reflect His goodness by being imitators of Him: 1 Thess. 1:6
 C. In this way, we shine for Him by doing His will: Matt. 7:21

IV. Stanza 4 says that the reward for shining for Jesus is living with Him on high
“I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus; I can if I but try,
Serving Him moment by moment, Then live with Him on high.”
 A. We can be sunbeams for Jesus, but we must try to be faithful to Him: Rev. 2:10
 B. This will result in serving Him moment by moment: Rom. 12:11
 C. The reward is that we shall ultimately live with Him on high: Rev. 22:3-5

     CONCL.:  The chorus continues to emphasize the importance of shining for Jesus Christ.
“A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
A sunbeam, a sunbeam, I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.”
This was obviously intended as a song for children, and for that reason some may dismiss it as being inappropriate for a worship service.  Each will have to make his own decision about such matters, but there is nothing taught to children in this song that is not also applicable to adults as well.  Whether I am young or old, it should be my aim that “I’ll Be a Sunbeam for Him.”


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