Lead, kindly Light

Words written in 1833 by St John Henry Newman while becalmed for a week on board a ship from Italy to Marseilles.

The hymn was sung by soloist Marion Wright on board the Titanic, just before the ship hit the iceberg.

Various tunes are used for this hymn and the video supplied here gives three of them – one for each verse!

The tune “Sandon” was written by Charles Henry Purday (1799-1885), a composer and publisher who included the tune in his hymnal of 1860 “Church and Home Metrical Psalter”. He was a precentor in the Scottish Church in Crown Court, London and sang at the coronation of Queen Victoria.

“Lux benigna” (Latin for “kindly light”) was one of the many tunes written by Revd John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876).

“Alberta” was composed by Sir William Henry Harris (1883-1973). He was organist at St George’s Chapel, Windsor from 1933 to 1961.

Three Hymn Tunes

I know that different people have their favourite tunes to this hymn (I prefer “Alberta”). But as an added bonus, here is a version by Sir Arthur Sullivan composed in 1871 – three years before Trial By Jury and the other D’Oyly Carte productions that followed.

Arrangement by Sullivan

There is also an anthem by Sir John Stainer – several versions are available on YouTube.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.