Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

open hymnal in the sunshine

Life seems to go faster and faster as time goes by, and it’s not only about getting old. The advances in technology enable us to do more with our time. But does technology really save us time? Or does it simply (and I use that term loosely) tempt us to cram more activity into our already overloaded lives?

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12:2a).

In 1918, Helen Lemmel received a small pamphlet from a missionary friend. As she read it, she was captivated by the phrase: “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face, and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.” Right there on the spot, both the words and the melody of a chorus came into her mind, as if written by the Holy Spirit Himself, according to her testimony. Later that week the stanzas came to her in the “usual” manner, “though none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit.”

Miss Lemmel was born to a Wesleyan Methodist pastor and his wife on November 14, 1864, in Wardle, England. She and her family came to the United States when she was twelve years old, and they lived briefly in Mississippi and then settled in Wisconsin.

Helen became well known as a singer, and even trained abroad in Germany. She later returned to the States and taught voice at Moody Bible Institute and also at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Her latter years were spent in active service to the Lord in a local church near her home in Seattle, Washington. In her lifetime Miss Lemmel wrote over 500 hymns and poems, as well as a children’s book and several children’s musical programs. She remained very active in music and writing up to her passing at the age of ninety-seven.

Helen Lemmel wrote “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” nearly 100 years ago, but the words are just as pertinent today as they ever were.

Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

Words and music by Helen H. Lemmel (1918)

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!

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conq’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!

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.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1990, p. 40.


Photo taken in Milton, FL, 2018

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