Gospel Song – Let Your Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me

Gospel Song – Let Your Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me

Gospel Song – Let Your Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me.

Blind Willie Johnson, the writer of this classic gospel song, has been a monumental influence in gospel blues since he recorded his songs in the latter 1920’s. He recorded 30 songs in all, completing his recording career around 1930. All of Blind Willie’s songs have been covered time and again, and are ageless. Willie was a street preacher and sidewalk performer for most of his adult life. He usually lived nearly penniless and lived a rather homeless life as he traveled the South. He may have been born in Texas, but he was a resident of the South because of all his travels. He recorded this landmark song in 1929, and it has been a vital part of the gospel blues tradition ever since. After being blinded when he was seven years old in a domestic incident, Willie was raised in the Baptist church. He absorbed a lot of Scripture growing up, and he used the Bible as his inspiration in most of his songs. He was a deeply devout Christian and continued his study of the Bible his whole life. In the midst of the “blues revival” in the 1960’s, Blind Willie was rediscovered and became a household name in the popular “sanctified blues” music scene. His songs have been covered by countless musicians, by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. There have likewise been many musical interpretations of this particular song, in the traditions of gospel, rock, blues, New Orleans jazz, folk, and even bluegrass.

In this ever-popular song, Blind Willie turned to one of the enduring themes of Scripture: light. He seems to be thinking like a bluesy David, using the Psalms as his inspiration… “Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.” (Psalm 4:6). The lighthouse that Blind Willie sings about is God Himself. Willie desires that God’s heavenly light shine down on him and all the rest of us. We can easily refer to the Bible in stating that God is indeed the lighthouse. We know that “God is light,” (1 John 1:5); that God is the “Father of lights,” (James 1:17); that He “dwells in unapproachable light,” (1 Timothy 6:16); that He “wraps Himself in light as with a robe,” (Ps. 104:1); that He is the “sun of righteousness,” (Malachi 4:2). Willie is reminding us of God’s status as the lighthouse in heaven, shining down on us. In this song, Willie, in his blindness, wants to look to the Lord, the light of the world, so that we can be “radiant,” (Ps.34:5). It is especially poignant that a blind man would be looking to the Lord to shine on him so that he “can walk in the light, as He is in the Light.” (1 John 1:7).

LYRICS – “Let Your Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me

Refrain: Let it shine on me, let it shine on me, Oh let your light from the lighthouse shine on me (2x).

  1. My Lord, He’s done, just what He said, Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me;

          Heal the sick and raise the dead, Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me. 


2. I know I’ve got religion, and I ain’t ashamed, Let your light from the lighthouse shine on me; 

    Angels in heaven, done wrote down my name, Let your light from the lighthouse shine on me.

Refrain (2x)

One notable bluesman who recorded this song (in 1934) was known as Lead Belly. His given name was Huddie Ledbetter, and he became a legend in folk blues and to a lesser extent gospel. He was an extraordinary musician, and was a virtuoso on 12 string guitar, accordion, piano, mandolin and harmonica. Born in Louisiana around 1890, he finally settled in Texas and began his remarkable music career. After many stints in prisons and jails for various offenses, he was known as someone who could “sing his way out of prison.” On the road he was sometimes referred to as the “singing convict.” His personal musical career peaked in the 1930’s and 1940’s, till he died in 1949. Lead Belly recorded so many songs in that relatively short period of time that it is difficult to count the number of recordings. He was the first bluesman to find success in Europe, and was credited for laying the roots of the British popular music later in the 1960’s. In fact, Lead Belly is interestingly a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lead Belly remains a towering figure in blues, folk, roots rock and gospel.