Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Helen Lemmel (1922)
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Thro' death into life everlasting,
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion--
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you--He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
What are some of the things that tend to cloud your heavenly perspective? What are some ways you can keep your gaze on Jesus' wonderful face?
Reflect a moment on the truth found in this hymn and learn more about its historical background.
BEHIND THE HYMN
Born in England, Helen Lemmel moved to the United States when she was young and over time became a well-known vocalist, giving concerts around the midwest in the early 1900s, teaching voice at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and eventually moving to Seattle where she served for some time as a music critic for a local newspaper.
Helen wrote over 500 hymns as well as a book for children, Story of the Bible.
She was inspired to write "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" in 1918 after reading a missionary tract from Lilias Trotter that included these words:
"Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once – art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best. It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him."
Later, Helen recalled the moment,
"Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit."
- Kristen Iaffaldano, Editor
Note: In my research, I've discovered some differing accounts related to her personal life -- many claiming Helen was blind when she wrote this hymn -- but newspaper clippings printed when she was alive seem to indicate she suffered from blindness in her eighties and passed away in her late nineties.