Story Behind the Song: ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’

I have vivid memories of when my Dad first taught me how to drive. With white knuckles and sweaty hands, I gripped the steering wheel and stared at the road. I remember fixing my eyes on the white lines trying to navigate the car to stay exactly in the middle of the lane. Dad must have seen where I was looking and said to me, “Don’t look at the road directly in front of you. Lift your eyes up and look ahead further.” When I looked up and out I found navigating the car was instantly easier. I could still see the white lines and keep in the middle of the lane as well as being able to see everything else going on around me.

I’m not telling you this story to encourage you to look ‘up and out’ and life will be easier, because I can assure you it won’t be! However, if we lift our eyes up to Jesus, as the song ‘Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus’ suggests, life is easier. The song says that when we turn our eyes to Jesus the things of earth grow dim. These ‘things’ are different for each of us. Maybe it’s stress, worry, busyness, loneliness, boredom, distraction, discouragement, despair. Whatever these ‘things’ are, they will grow dim as we turn our eyes to Jesus.

The song ‘Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus’ was written in 1918 by Helen Lemmel. During her ninety-eight years, she wrote more than five hundred hymns, poems, and a children’s book. The song was inspired by a tract Helen read containing these words: “So then turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.” The chorus of the song is a beautiful reminder that as we look to Jesus, as we reflect on who He is and what He has done for us, as we acknowledge who we are because of Jesus, then the things of earth truly will grow dim.

It is my prayer that the lyrics of this song will encourage you and cause you to turn your eyes to Jesus, and that as you do that the things of this earth will grow dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Saviour,
And a life more abundant and free!

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!

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.

Looking to him,