|Dwight L. Moody|
| LET THE LOWER LIGHTS BE BURNING
A few years ago, at the mouth of Cleveland harbor, there were two lights, one at each side of the bay, called the upper and lower lights; and to enter the harbor safely by night, vessels must sight both of the lights.
These western lakes are more dangerous sometimes than the great ocean. One wild, stormy night, a steamer was trying to make her way into the harbor. The captain and pilot were anxiously watching for the lights.
By-and-by the pilot was heard to say, “Do you see the lower light?” “No,” was the reply; “I fear we have passed them.” “Ah, there are the lights,” said the pilot; “and they must be, from the bluff on which they stand, the upper lights. We have passed the lower lights, and have lost our chance of getting into the harbor.” What was to be done? They looked back, and saw the dim outline of the lower lighthouse against the sky. The lights had gone out. “Can’t you turn your head around?” “No; the night is too wild for that. She won’t answer to her helm.” The storm was so fearful that they could do nothing.
They tried again to make for the harbor, but they went crash against the rocks, and sank to the bottom. Very few escaped; the great majority found a watery grave. Why? Simply because the lower lights had gone out. Now, with us the upper lights are all right. Christ Himself is the upper light, and we are the lower lights, and the cry to us is, keep the lower lights burning; that is what we have to do. He will lead us safe to the sunlit shore of Canaan, where there is no more night.
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
CHO.- Let the lower lights be burning!
Dark the night of sin has settled,
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
(Editor’s note: To the best of our knowledge, this classic illustration by D. L. Moody is in the public domain.)
Click below for interesting link to history of hundreds of hymns.
I have a few obvious questions: What was the name of the ship? When did the accident occur? How many were on board and of those, how many died?
The hymn was written by Philip Paul Bliss after hearing Dwight L. Moody mention the above story in a sermon. Bliss first met Moody in 1869 and Bliss died in 1876. Therefore, the wreck must have happened before 1876.
Did Moody make up the story? If he did, then why make a specific mention of Cleveland when it could be attributed to any harbor?
The ship was a brigantine named the Sultan. She sank in 1864.
According to the article, the Sultan “perished as it sailed from Cleveland,” whereas Moody’s illustration is of a ship coming into Cleveland Harbor. So, perhaps a different shipwreck?