Scripture Verse

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105


Richard W. Adams (1952–)

Words: Ri­chard W. Ad­ams, 2001. This hymn, writ­ten in Or­lan­do, Flo­ri­da, is part of a long­er po­em, shown at the end of this page.

Music: St. Co­lum­ba an­cient Ir­ish me­lo­dy (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:


The Bi­ble is a bril­liant lamp,
Given to light up our way,
To show our feet the way to tread,
To turn dark­ness into day.

To teach to us the Fa­ther’s love,
And the Ev­il One’s cru­el hate,
To show the path round ma­ny snares,
The way to the pear­ly gate.

Given to all who tru­ly seek,
For wis­dom, mean­ing and love,
Instruction in life’s mys­ter­ies,
The way to Hea­ven above.

And once you grasp the lamp, do not
Hoard that bril­liant, pre­cious light,
But share with all the ra­di­ant beam,
And watch it con­quer the night.


The Lamp

I once planned a far off jour­ney,
Thinking ea­sy was the way;
Full of con­fi­dence and ea­ger,
Though I had no guide that day.

I had maps of­fered by stran­gers,
Some seemed sage and wise, but they
Admitted, when I pressed for more
They had never been that way.

Others, smooth of tongue, persuasive,
Gave assurances that they
Knew of a secret canyon path
Guaranteed to speed my way.

I marveled at my good fortune,
To have found such ones that told
The easy way to reach my goal,
A city of jeweled gold.

With my preparations finished,
I was ready to embark,
But the sun had long departed,
The highway silent and dark.

The courage that I’d felt within
The warm and brightly lit room
Had fled away—I was alone
Standing in icy cold gloom.

But not alone! I saw a man
Come up, a lamp in his hand;
Use this, he said. The darkness hides
Snares and traps throughout the land.

The lamp, a dusty, worn relic,
Would surely a weak beam yield,
No use on stygian byway,
No help in ebony field.

More power than you know, my friend,
To pierce the darkest of night.
It saved my life full many time,
Whenever I sought its light.

I did not see how the ancient
Antique could still have a power,
But polite, I took it and left
The old man, pleading the hour.

In the death cold dark I wandered
The path dismal, fell and drear,
Groping for landmarks in the black
Wondering—could I be near?

Was that the river, serpent coiled?
Was that the lightning rent tree?
Was that the canyon through the hills
To the city waiting for me?

O, for a moon to shed its rays
And help me make out the ground;
But thickest cloud hid moon and stars
In a joyless gloom profound.

But suddenly, I thought, The lamp!
I’d had it all through the night!
Desperately, I pulled it out,
Praying, O Lord, give me light.

Opened, the lamp began to glow
As though from an inner power;
I naught had done, but on its own
Could it guide me and save the hour?

By gaping maw of canyon dark
I stood, the lamp held on high;
I saw the glint of waiting swords,
As spider awaits the fly.

The lying lips, the honeyed tongues,
Had led to the verge of doom;
I almost fell into the trap
They laid in that warm, bright room.

They only cared for self, not me,
Lust, boasting and greed their god;
They feared not justice, only cared
For pleasure bought with my blood.

With thanks to Heav’n that by the lamp
I escaped the dark side’s snare,
I fled away, on eagle wings,
Clutching lamp as bright as e’er.

I now could see the stone and root
That in dark had made me fall;
And then, at last, at breaking dawn,
Loomed the city’s jasper wall.

But who was that, by gate of pearl,
With open arms of greeting?
The old man from the inn it was;
O, what a strange, glad meeting!

How came you here before me, when
You had no lamp to guide you?

“Oh, but I did—I merely shared
That lamp of power beside you.

“That is the wonder of the lamp:
You share it time and again,
And still you have its brilliant light
To help find your journey’s end.

For you see, you never lose it,
E’en though you give it away,
The light of love shines as brightly
As it did on God’s first day.

The Bible is a brilliant lamp,
Given to light up our way,
To show our feet the way to tread,
To turn darkness into day.

To teach to us the Father’s love,
And the Evil One’s cruel hate,
To show the path round many snares,
The way to the pearly gate.

Given to all who truly seek,
For wisdom, meaning and love,
Instruction in life’s mysteries,
The way to Heaven above.

And once you grasp the lamp, do not
Hoard that brilliant, precious light,
But share with all the radiant beam,
And watch it conquer the night.