Elisa’s mother Julia, who finished her mortal journey four years ago tomorrow, loved lighthouses. She had several throughout her home including paintings and figurines.
The chorus of one of her most favorite hymns, “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy,” includes the line, “let the lower lights be burning”.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
I have sung this hymn for years without knowing, until a few weeks ago, the meaning of the “lower lights”.
A quick search unveiled multiple sources pointed to Dwight Moody, a well-known preacher in the late 1800’s, who shared with his church congregation a story about a ship on a storming night trying to find safety in the harbor.
“A long time ago, noted preacher Dwight Moody told his congregation a story about a boat, helplessly rocking and plunging on a stormy, starless night near the Cleveland harbor. The mariners on board could see the lighthouse, but they needed to find their way through the narrow passage in the treacherous rocks that surrounded the harbor. Normally a light on the shore, aligned with the lighthouse, marked the passage to safety. But on this night, the lower lights had gone out.
“Finally, the desperate captain decided they had no choice but to proceed into the harbor without the guidance of the lower lights. “With a strong hand and brave heart”–but in almost total darkness–“the old pilot turned the wheel.” Tragically, he missed the channel, crashed the boat upon the rocks, and lost the lives of his sailors.
“Moody then explained the lesson to be learned from his story: the Master will take care of the great lighthouse, but He depends on us to keep the lower lights burning. Philip Paul Bliss was directing the singing at the meeting that night and was so inspired by Moody’s story that he wrote what would become one of his most popular hymns, “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy.” He also composed the music, a hymn tune known as “Lower Lights,” which was first published in 1871.”
I have found God, my forever Master of the great lighthouse, through those who have been the Lower Lights burning brightly.
Chief of the Lower Lights is my angel Elisa. She has been constantly shining bright, gently guiding me through the treacherous storms of life.
Julia was such a lower light as well. We feel her beautiful love still to this day.
Have a beautiful Sunday.
We love you!
Les & Elisa