In Hymn We Find Delight

By: Brian Robertson

I want to walk as a child of the Light
I want to follow Jesus
God set the stars To give light to the world
The Star of my life is Jesus.

In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The love is the Light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus.

I want to see the Brightness of God
I want to look at Jesus
Clear Son of righteousness shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father.


I have discovered that music in a worship service is an adventure. Perhaps it's the fact that I grew up in a standard sort of Protestant church where each week the organ played and a choir sang. To me, that was simply the way things were done.

Over the years, however, I've been blessed to experience a rich variety of voices and sounds and find it astonishing how powerful some can be. I realize it's personal taste, of course, but more often than not when I visit a new church or attend a new service somewhere, I listen to hear if the music supports or intrudes.

Eastern Orthodox Churches have a wonderful chanting that goes back and forth, and most recently I attended one in Austin where those gathered were positioned between an unseen but fantastic choir of voices up and behind us while those in front of us chanted the liturgy. I also heard an early morning service at a Roman Catholic Church where the choir was a powerful, soothing part of the atmosphere. At a Protestant church with African-American roots, the energy in the music was enough to wake you up, even on an early Sunday morning.

I realize the importance of having a "home base" to work from, a supportive community that you can depend on, but there is great joy in visiting different traditions and seeing how God is worshipped and approached from different angles, especially in the music.

Now, I've probably gone through a zillion hymns in my life, sometimes mouthing the words when the range is beyond mine, and I know I have this storehouse of distant memories of words, phrases and tunes. Still, none has the power and none has stuck with me like the hymn, "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light..."

I know, personal taste.

I first heard the hymn in an Episcopal service and the song was done with a delicate sense that completely captivated me. I remember telling my friend, who was the Priest, "When I go, that's the hymn I want somebody somewhere to sing." I find the references to God as Light to be wonderful, I admit, but the part that I find the most compelling is:

In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The love is the Light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus.

Now, you have the HEAR this hymn to appreciate the words and power, but the line I wait for is, "The love is the Light of the city of God...." What an amazing image, and in the hymn those singing seem to slow slightly and hang on that very line.

We are all seekers. Even those who say that they have been "saved" certainly must perceive that there are levels and levels of understanding and sensation, that both here and beyond we draw closer and closer to God in our soul's journey.

Think of traveling late at night in darkness. It's been a long, long trip and you're tired. Cresting a hill, you catch site of your destination -- you can see traces of the light on the horizon, the lights of the city to which you are traveling. With that comes relief and a growing happiness as you move closer, as the lights get brighter and you realize you're home, a place you love and are loved.

In the same way, moving closer to the Inner Light, to the "Not I, but Christ who lives in me," one finds the Love of God to be a beacon, to be those at first faint lights that pinpoint the location of home, inspire you to continue in spite of weariness and fill you with hope and joy.

When you see love, when you experience love, you are seeing the Light from the very city of God and, as the hymnist wisely observes, your heart is where the light must shine from if we are to understand what Jesus meant when he said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you."