This page was created by Donal Hegarty.  The last update was by Alisa Clapp-Itnyre .

Sounding Childhood

Jesus bids us shine

 “Jesus bids us shine” is often attributed to the American hymn-writer Emily Huntingdon Miller but was really written by Susan Warner (1881), author of Wide, Wide World. It is a sweet hymn invoking Matthew 5:16 about “let[ting] your light shine before men,” and John 1:5 (“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”).  Here, Jesus speaks to children to shine.  The child’s location in a “small corner” at first connotes tight spaces where children might be trapped; however, the analogy of a candle in a corner suggests the greater reflection of that light outward when held against a wall, clearly an important lesson for marginalized, disempowered children. Furthermore, Jesus bids them shine in “many kinds of darkness:” “sin, and want and sorrow” (v. 3), noting from heaven when “their light grows dim” (v. 2).   It is an interesting mixture of warning and welcome for the luminosity of the child.  Its tune, “Little Soldiers,” as used in an 1893 collection, is equally as bright (See Inglis, E. W. and J. Gall, 282 Hymns and Melodies for School and Family Use).  Interestingly, the hymn book uses the same tune as is used for “We are little soldiers/ fighting for the Lord” which helps to explain and highlight the emphatic beats.  

More discussion on this hymn can be found in Chapter 4, British Hymn Books for Children.

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