I love hymns….not only for their accurate expression of genuine feeling and faith, but for their historical value and realism. I love learning the story behind their writing.
This is the first time I have read this story, and it speaks to my heart particularly because of its association to my favorite scripture. No matter what we do in life, we are called to do it all as unto Christ. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus… 🙂 amidst my daily struggles, this verse has brought me peace. Let “the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
England born Helen H. Lemmel (1863-1961) lived most of her life in America. She was a gifted concert soloist, a music teacher at the Moody Bible Institute, and music critic for the Seattle Post. She also worked as director of a woman’s choral group that was a regular part of the Billy Sunday evangelical meetings. Helen wrote the words and music of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus in 1922, to be sung at those meetings.
The inspiration for Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, which Helen entitled The Heavenly Vision, came from the writings of author and artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928).
Lilias Trotter was a brilliant artist whose talent opened the doors to wealth and influence. Her other love was missions. After struggling in prayer for two years, Trotter came to the conclusion that she must lay down her love of art in order to fix her eyes solely on Jesus, and on His calling to the mission field. She subsequently served for more than 38 years as a missionary to Muslims of Algeria. She also authored several books and tracts. The following is an excerpt from her tract, Which Passion Will Prevail?
“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.”
– Lilias Trotter
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
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.
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!
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!
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2)