My Faith Looks Up to Thee

Representative Text

1 My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray,
take all my guilt away;
O let me from this day
be wholly Thine.

2 May Thy rich grace impart
strength to my fainting heart,
my zeal inspire;
as Thou hast died for me,
O may my love to Thee
pure, warm, and changeless be,
a living fire.

3 While life’s dark maze I tread,
and griefs around me spread,
be Thou my guide;
bid darkness turn to day,
wipe sorrow’s tears away,
nor let me ever stray
from Thee aside.

4 When ends life's transient dream,
when death’s cold, sullen stream
shall o'er me roll,
blest Savior, then in love,
fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above,
a ransomed soul.

Source: Hymns to the Living God #269

Author: Ray Palmer

Palmer, Ray, D.D., son of the Hon. Thomas Palmer, a Judge in Rhode Island, was born at Little Compton, Rhode Island, Nov. 12, 1808. His early life was spent at Boston, where he was for some time clerk in a dry-goods store. At Boston he joined the Park Street Congregational Church, then under the pastoral care of Dr. S. E. Dwight. After spending three years at Phillips Academy, Andover, he entered Yale College, New Haven, where he graduated in 1830. In 1835 he became pastor of the Central Congregational Church, Bath, Maine. During his pastorate there he visited Europe in 1847. In 1850 he was appointed to the First Congregational Church, at Albany, New York, and in 1865 Corresponding Secretary to the American Congregational Union, New York. H… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: My faith looks up to Thee
Title: My Faith Looks Up to Thee
Author: Ray Palmer (1830)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Scripture References: st. 3 = Heb. 12:1-2 st. 4 = 2. Cor. 4:16, 1 Thess. 4:17 Ray Palmer (b. Little Compton, RI, 1808; d. Newark, NJ, 1887) wrote these words while employed as a teacher at a private girls' school in New York. He had experienced a difficult year of illness and loneliness and was inspired to write this verse one night after meditating on a German poem that depicted a sinner kneeling before the cross of Christ. He later stated, "The words for these stanzas were born out of my own soul with very little effort. I recall that 1 wrote the verses with tender emotion. . . . When writing the last line, "O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!" the thought that the whole work of redemption and salvation was involved in those words. . . brought me to a degree of emotion that brought abundant tears." Palmer jotted the text into a notebook, which he shared two years later while visiting with the composer Lowell Mason (PHH 96) in Boston. Mason's prophecy that Palmer "will be best known to posterity as the author of 'My Faith Looks Up to Thee' " has certainly come true. A hymn of prayer, this song asks for forgiveness (st. 1), for purity of love (st. 2), for divine guidance (st. 3), and for safe homecoming into glory (st. 4). Stanzas 1 and 2 are popularly judged the best and the most useful. The gloom of stanza 3 is similar to some Old Testament laments. The Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee altered stanza 4 to capture a more Reformed theology. Palmer is often considered to be one of America's best nineteenth-century hymn writers. After completing grammar school he worked in a Boston dry goods store, but a religious awakening prodded him to study for the ministry. He attended Yale College (supporting himself by teaching) and was ordained in 1835. A pastor in Congregational churches in Bath, Maine (1835-1850), and Albany, New York (1850-1865), he also served as secretary of the American Congregational Union (1865-1878). Palmer was a popular preacher and author, writing original poetry as well as translating hymns. He published several volumes of poetry and hymns, including Sabbath Hymn BookHymns and Sacred Pieces (1865), and Hymns of My Holy Hours (1868). His complete poetical works were published in 1876. Liturgical Use: Stanzas 1 and 2 are most useful in the service of confession and forgiveness–stanza 1 can initiate the confession; stanza 2 can be a response to words of forgiveness and assurance. Stanzas 3 and 4 are prayers for guidance as the Christian continues the pilgrimage toward glory. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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