A Hymn Devotion for 7 April 20202 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This is a devotional hymn that should urge our awareness toward the best and most important things in life. The author is Helen H. Lemmel who was born in England in 1863 to a Methodist minister, immigrated to the United states at age twelve, and studied music as her career in both Germany and the United States. Hemmel went blind in her midlife and her husband divorced her.
The lyrics were inspired by a tract read to her that was written by Lilias Trotter. It read:
“Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best.” It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”
The words ring even more true today than they did 100 years ago. Our world is filled with so many distractions, diversions, and things that would turn us away from God. When so many of us are mired in our careers or our entertainment or managing our homes, how many of us “Dare to have it out with God” and turn our soul’s vision back to Jesus? I will tell you her story behind the writing of the hymn in her own words:
Lemmel said that when she heard these words, she “stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme or not to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but nonetheless dictated by the Holy Spirit.”
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! No matter our station, status, profession or wealth in this life, if we have not the Lord Jesus Christ, we have nothing. An empty void occupies the central chambers of our hearts. On the other hand, if we are poor and lacking the luxuries of life, but have the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are rich beyond measure. The wealthy are often the most miserable of all creatures in their opulent palaces of greed. Though their halls are lit with flaming torches, smothering darkness fills their living quarters. But Our Lord Jesus Christ will provide penetrating Light to disperse every dark shadow if we but turn to Him.
Through death into life everlasting He passed, and we follow Him there; Over us sin no more hath dominion— For more than conquerors we are! If we have heeded His counsel and taken up our crosses to follow Him, it may lead to a martyr’s death here, but a glorious resurrection hereafter. We yield our self-wills to His Will and are no longer in bondage to that sinful will. A conqueror wins a war, but the Christian wins a Kingdom.
His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well: Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell! The world has been dying ever since the Serpent deceived Eve in the Garden at Eden. It was that very moment that sin and its companion, death, entered in. Eve was deceived to believe a lie and to reject the true Word of God. Now, we MUST believe Him and live as though we believe Him.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. There are many eyes fixed upon our Lord Jesus Christ – not all out of a submissive faith. There are eyes of hatred – just as at the crucifixion – fixed upon the Lord in order even today to find fault with Him and His followers. “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there;” Matthew 27:35,36 (KJV) There are far more eyes of outrageous wrath that look upon Christ than there are those who love and know Him as Lord and Savior. “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” Matthew 27:39-43
But those who love the Lord most, such as the women and John who braved the anger of the Jews and remained at the foot of the cross, behold Him with a completely different focus. They see the Lord in the Man, and the Man in the Lord. He came down from Glory and assumed our humanity to become a physical manifestation of a Father whom we could know better in knowing Jesus.
Most of the eyes turned upon Jesus at the cross were windows to blackened and merciless hearts; but those of His disciples who beheld Him there on the cross felt their love for Him multiplied seven-fold; and that love became immeasurable once He emerged from the Garden Tomb.
Friends, how do you look upon the Lord? Is your heart filled with love and devotion as your spiritual eyes turn daily to Him?