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Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom – Alberta

First line:
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
NEH 392
author of text
1831; NEH 392

These words were written in 1831, a time in J H Newman’s life of considerable stress and turmoil. He was deeply concerned for the Church of England, and over a number of political events. His own spiritual life was approaching a crisis. On holiday in Italy with friends he became ill. Becalmed on ship on his way home he wrote these words, never intending them to be sung as a hymn. They are a challenge to the tune-writer: first, the mood of deep distress through which faith and hope shines must be expressed; secondly, having been written freely as a poem, the tune must respect the punctuation and allow the sense to flow over the ends of the lines. The upward surge of this tune expresses the mood well, and it sings of a deep resignation to the will of God in the final phrase. We hardly notice the technical problems because of the skill of the writing. W H Harris, who had a long career in cathedral music culminating in almost thirty years at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, wrote the tune in 1924 on a long train journey through Alberta.

from notes by Alan Luff © 1999


The English Hymn, Vol. 1 - Christ Triumphant
CDP12101Archive Service


Track 20 on CDP12101 [2'30] Archive Service

Track-specific metadata for CDP12101 track 20

Recording date
16 June 1999
Recording venue
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. The English Hymn, Vol. 1 - Christ Triumphant (CDP12101)
    Disc 1 Track 20
    Release date: November 1999
    Deletion date: February 2021
    Archive Service
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