Scripture Verse

Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105


John B. Dykes

Words: John H. New­man, 1833 (vers­es 1–3); Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr., Hym­nal Com­pan­ion verse 4.

Music: Lux Be­nig­na John B. Dykes, 1861 (🔊 pdf nwc; male voic­es: 🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Am­er­ican pre­si­dent Cal­vin Cool­idge, Jan­ua­ry 7, 1933, at the Ed­wards Con­gre­ga­tion­al Church, North­amp­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Newman on board ship

Origin of the Hymn

While tra­vel­ing in It­a­ly as a young priest, New­man fell ill and stayed at Cas­tle Gi­o­van­ni al­most three weeks. Fin­al­ly, he was well enough con­tin­ue his jou­rney to Pa­ler­mo:

Before start­ing from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bit­ter­ly. My ser­vant, who had act­ed as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could on­ly an­swer, I have a work to do in Eng­land. I was ach­ing to get home, yet for want of a ves­sel I was kept at Pa­ler­mo for three weeks.

I be­gan to vis­it the church­es, and they calmed my im­pa­tience, though I did not at­tend any ser­vic­es. At last I got off in an or­ange boat, bound for Mar­seilles. We were be­calmed for whole week in the Straits of Bo­ni­fa­cio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kind­ly Light, which have since be­come so well known.


Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent,
Till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.