This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine,
I’m goin’a let it shine,
this little light of mine,
I’m goin’a let it shine,
this little light of mine,
I’m goin’a let it shine
Lit it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Additional verses
2. Everywhere I go, I’m goin’a let it shine…
3. All through the night, I’m goin’a let it shine…
4. Jesus, gave it to me, I’m goin’a let it shine…
5 All in my home, I’m goin’a let it shine…
– African-American spiritual

This hymn is based on Matthew 5:14-16: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” As with many of the spirituals, the stanzas developed as the leader was inspired and even today the singing of this hymn with change with the circumstances. You have perhaps noticed that as you watched or participated in the recent protests of police brutality.

Think and pray on these questions:
How do you try to reflect the light of Christ in your life?
Is your light shining on injustice to help others see it and to point the way to justice?
Does your light reflect the light of Jesus?
Do you see in the light of others Jesus in their souls and actions?
How can you help your children/grandchildren be lights for Jesus?
How can each of us shine the light of Jesus in our community to combat injustice?

This hymn was developed in the oral tradition of the slave communities here in the United States. Remember the rules governing the slaves were extensive: they could not gather in large groups; they always had to carry a pass away from home; they were not to be taught to read or write; the Scriptures were to be read to them by the slave owners. But it was in the unofficial, illegal church services that the slaves sang and prayed together. The songs were biblical in content, rhythmic in style, easily taught, and contained powerful images of the ordinary life of the slave. Some of the spirituals had double meanings that enabled the slaves to conceal activities from their owners and send messages to each other. Many were hope-filled and life-affirming in the midst of deplorable conditions. The community – men, women and children, developed the words and music and transmitted them by repetition.

Light is needed in our country today. Light is need to guide us through the needed changes that are caused by racism and white supremacy. Let your light shine and encourage others to be a light in the world..

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.

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