The subject of today’s article might not be considered a hymn in the strictest definition of the term, since it was written as a children’s song. It was one of my favorite Sunday School songs when I was growing up, and come to think of it, still is — if nothing but for its simplicity and a reminder to be a good witness to those around me. It was likely based on one of these two scriptures:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16) OR
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. (Luke 11:33)
For Sunday School kids it’s an interactive song, holding up the index finger to represent the light (candle) and going through the motions of “hide it under a bushel, No!” and “don’t let Satan blow it out”. Look up the lyrics and you’ll find several variations, and while I’m not sure what the actual original words were, I remember it best as it’s sung in this video.
Over the years, the song was thought to be a Negro spiritual, but since it was written in 1920 by Harry Dixon Loes, that post-dates the slavery era. The lyrics and tune have been adapted by such artists as Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen (and “secularized”). The song was also featured in one of my favorite movies, Corina Corina, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ray Liotta.
Harry Loes was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on October 20, 1892. One source reports that he later added “Dixon” to his name in honor of Amzi Clarence “A.C.” Dixon, pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church in the early 1900’s. Harry had studied at the Moody Bible Institute, receiving extensive training in music.
After graduating from the Institute, he served as music director in several churches, followed by twelve years of evangelistic work. Through the years he wrote several hymns, choruses and children’s songs. In 1939 Harry joined the music department faculty of Moody Bible Institute and remained there until his death in 1965.
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.