Hymn History: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus October 12, 2022

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“…looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God…” – Hebrews 12:2

It is extraordinary how God uses the simplest realities to teach us great truths. Among the many thousands of hymns, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus holds a tender place in the hearts of many believers. The gentle appeal and tender rebuke urges you to look away from all else and simply “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Few know, however, this call to fix your eyes on Christ was given by a blind woman! 

Born in 1864, Helen Lemmel moved to the United States around the age of twelve. From a young age, her musical ability was noticed by all those around her. 

In 1907, She moved to Germany for 4 years to undergo intensive music training. It was here that she would meet her husband. Together, they returned to the United States in 1911. While in America, she served faithfully in the Lord’s work. She dedicated herself to writing, arranging, and teaching songs and hymns of the faith  

A few years after her marriage, a tragic illness caused her to lose her vision. Her husband, refusing to attend to a blind wife, left her. This time of hurt and loss weighed heavily upon Helen. 

Then, in 1918, Lemmel was introduced to a pamphlet written by Algerian missionary Lilias Trotter. Trotter was a well-known artist who had given up a rising and lucrative career to serve the Lord on the misson field. Her words stirred the heart of Lemmel. She writes, “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…These verses were written…the same week…” 

The words that so captivated Helen were these: “How do we bring things to a focus in the world of optics? Not by looking at the things to be dropped, but by looking at the one point that is to be brought out. Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look…look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him, and the Divine “attrait” by which God’s saints are made…will lay hold of you. For “He is worthy” to have all there is to be had in the heart that He has died to win.” 

Helen kept her eyes on the Lord Jesus and continued to serve Him faithfully.  She would lead a women’s choral group for many of the Billy Sunday outreaches, teach music at the Moody Bible Institute, and pen over 400 hymns! Her life is a stirring challenge to us all. Hence, it may be said that although blind, her spiritual sight has challenged those of us who can see to keep our eyes fixed on Christ.    

Are you weary, tired, hurting, confused, or frustrated? My friend, turn your eyes upon our dear Savior today, and the things of earth will grow “strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

1. 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! (Refrain)

(Refrain) 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.

2. 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! (Refrain)

3. 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! (Refrain)

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5 Comments

  1. Daphne Wilburn on October 13, 2022 at 7:13 AM

    Oh Praise you Jesus. I love you. How many times we have a pity party. Sometimes we invite people to it. But mostly we like it by ourselves. Oh wow is me. That’s Satan controlling us. Like the song, Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
    Like God told us, there’s many times we need to talk to ourselves and encourage ourselves. Don’t listen to Satan.

  2. Linda smith on October 13, 2022 at 8:54 AM

    I’ve been having pity parties my whole life and wasted many opportunities to share the Lord’s attributes. Please pray I will apply this song to whatever my circumstances are. He is wonderful‼️

    • scottpauley on October 27, 2022 at 8:23 AM

      Amen!

  3. Ruth Horn on October 15, 2022 at 1:31 AM

    When I first came to Christ many years ago out in South Dakota, we sang that hymn one Sunday night. I was a troubled teen and this song spoke to my heart and has since always held a special place there. What a precious hymn, and now that I know the history, even more so!

    • scottpauley on October 27, 2022 at 8:25 AM

      It is wonderful when God connects a song to your personal experience with Him.

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