"The Night Is Dark, And I Am Far From Home"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Written on shipboard in 1833 when Newman, an Anglican minister, was returning to England from Italy, "The Pillar of the Cloud" is an autobiographical lyric which pictures the poet's perplexities at a time when he was wavering between Anglicanism and Catholicism (he was to become a Catholic in 1845). The ship is becalmed in a heavy fog, which symbolizes to the poet his own situation, and he prays for guidance from God. Set to music by J. W. Dykes and universally known as "Lead, Kindly Light," the lines have become one of the great Christian hymns. The frequent use of the hymn in funeral services involves an interpretation very different from that originally intended by its author. The complete poem follows:

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home–
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene,–one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.