My Faith Looks Up To Thee
My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!
May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!
While life’s dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.
When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!
By Ray Palmer
Text in the Public Domain
- The hymn writer describes an attitude that looks to Jesus for faith and guidance in everything. What does the Bible say about this attitude? (See 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 14:5-6.
- Why does the writer ask for strength through God’s grace instead of asserting a right to his request? What is zeal? How does the hymn writer describe zeal for Christ? How can a faithful follower of Christ express this kind of zeal without building a wall between himself and the people around him? Why don’t Christians want to build a wall of separation between themselves and all other people?
- What experiences have you had that help you understand the author’s perception of life on earth as a “dark maze?” How would you explain to a secular thinker why you see the earth as a dark place?
- Secularists believe that when they die, they simply stop living biologically and they have no further sentient existence. Their only concept of their further existence is that their molecules will be recycled by nature. How can you explain to a secularist why you believe that “death’s cold sullen stream” is not the end of your life?
I normally do not print the story of the hymns I post, but this story is extraordinary. The section about the Syrian Christian who came to the USA is especially relevant as we pray daily for the protection and the powerful testimony of Christian brothers and sisters in Syria.
Ray Palmer wrote these lyrics upon receiving a vision of Christ shortly after his graduation from Yale University, while working as a tutor at a New York school. However, he kept them to himself until meeting Lowell Mason on a street in Boston, Massachusetts. When Mason asked him to write something for a new hymnal, Palmer dug out his old notes and produced these lyrics, written two years earlier. After taking the lyrics home and reading them, Mason composed this tune. Several days later he saw Palmer again and said: You may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of My Faith Looks Up to Thee.
An interesting story connected with this hymn:
Mrs. Layyah Barakat, a native of Syria, was educated in Beirut and then taught for a time in Egypt. Driven out in 1882 by the insurrection of Arabi Pasha, she, with her husband and child, came to America by way of Malta and Marseilles. Her history is a strange illustration of God’s providential care, as they were without any direction or friends in Philadelphia when they landed. But the Lord took them into His own keeping, and brought them to those who had known of her in Syria. While in this country she frequently addressed large audiences, to whom her deep earnestness and broken but piquant English proved unusually attractive. Among other incidents she related that she had been permitted to see the conversion of her whole family, who were Maronites of Mount Lebanon. Her mother, sixty-two years of age, had been taught ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee’ in Arabic. They would sit on the house roof and repeat it together; and when the news came back to Syria that the daughter was safe in America, the mother could send her no better proof of her faith and love than in the beautiful words of this hymn, assuring her that her faith still looked up to Christ.
The source of this story is identified on the site as Sutherland, pp. 77-9. However, the link appears to be dead.
The background material and the story of the Syrian Christian are all taken from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/m/y/myfluptt.htm
Blog post created by Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image: Open Hymnal
License: CC BY-NC-SA