Hymn of the day July 2021

When a blind man came to Jesus: Marjorie Dobson

When a blind man came to Jesus
Marjorie Dobson (1940 - )
© 2004 Stainer & Bell Ltd. PO Box 110, 23 Gruneisen Road, LONDON N3 1DZ, www.stainer.co.uk. Used by permission

Tune: MANNHEIM, Congregational Church Music (1853, Binney), Lowell Mason (1792-1872) after Friedrich Filitz (1804-76).
Public Domain

UGADALE, June Baker (1936 - )
© Stainer & Bell Ltd. PO Box 110, 23 Gruneisen Road, LONDON N3 1DZ, www.stainer.co.uk. Used by permission

Marjorie Dobson

Marjorie Dobson

When a blind man came to Jesus
asking for the gift of sight;
in those first few anxious moments
he could only see faint light,
then the full truth dawned upon him,
broke through his eternal night.

When a widow, lost in grieving,
knowing that her son was dead,
followed, weeping, to his burial,
Jesus saw what lay ahead.
With compassion he approached her,
raised the boy up from his bed.

When the storm clouds of Good Friday
drained the light out from the sky,
broken ones who followed Jesus
could not see the reason why.
Only with the dawn of Easter
could their heads be lifted high.

When our lives are drowned in darkness,
when our faith is under strain,
we can also look to Jesus,
give to him our fear and pain.
Let his dawn light new horizons
as our hope is born again.

Reflection: Marjorie Dobson

There are many accounts in the Gospels of Jesus reaching out to heal people and as there has been so much emphasis on sickness and health recently, we need to look at these stories again.

In the first verse of this hymn, we sing of the blind man from Bethsaida, whose story is told in Mark 8: 22-26. This man had been brought from his village to meet Jesus (v22). We cannot be sure whether the people who brought him were friends concerned for his welfare, or people who simply wanted the man out of the village. Maybe they thought of him as a liability, or perhaps they were afraid that the supposed sin that had caused his blindness would contaminate them. Why, otherwise, would Jesus lead him out of the village and then advise the newly sighted man not to go back there? (v26)

But, first, he must be healed. Unusually, this healing did not take place immediately. Jesus touched the man’s eyes with spittle. Many people of the time believed that spittle was a cure for anything. However, the man was not cured, but could only see people ‘like trees walking’. So Jesus repeated the action and the man’s sight was fully restored. Was Jesus aware that this blind man may have been overwhelmed by an instant miracle? Or was it a word of caution to those who seek to find faith fully formed and must recognise that it grows more slowly? Or is that just a good preaching point?

In the second verse, the woman is granted an immediate miracle. Luke 7:11-17 offers a story in which Jesus reacted instantly to the situation of the bereaved woman. She was obviously a respected member of the community. A crowd of people were with her as her son was being carried to his burial. He had been her only son and would have been expected to care for and support her because she was a widow already. So, her son’s death left her without any financial support and relying totally on the charity of the community, or the kindness of strangers. It was a pitiable situation and Jesus was very aware of that. The question of how these miracles worked must be left for another time, but Jesus immediately stepped forward to bring the boy back to life. In restoring the boy to health, Jesus was giving his mother her life back too.

All four Gospels tell the story of the death of Jesus, but Luke 23:44-45 particularly emphasises the darkness that drained the light from the sky at the time of the crucifixion. It was devastating for the ones who had followed Jesus and had witnessed the triumph of his entry into the city of Jerusalem a week before. Now it seemed that the world was against him, and them, and the future was shrouded in this black cloud of shock and fear. Their hopes were shattered and all they could do was lock themselves away to mourn. But, on the third day, the dawn brought new light in so many different ways and their future brightened with the knowledge that nothing could kill the love of God. Jesus would lead them to new life.

The final verse makes the other three relevant to us, the singers. We all have crises in our lives at times. Disability, sickness, death, loss of hope or faith, fear for the future, all these are experiences that we share, as we know from recent events. Sometimes, our lives are ‘drowned in darkness’, or our ‘faith is under strain’, and looking to Jesus seems far too simple a solution to be practicable. Yet remembering how Jesus helped and healed people with physical and mental problems, shows us that his words and teachings are as relevant today as they ever were. They can still ‘light new horizons, as our hope is born again.’

This hymn was written a number of years ago and appeared in the first collection of my work, Multi-coloured Maze, published by Stainer & Bell Ltd in 2004. I suspect that its purpose was to be sung during a service in which one of these three Gospel stories featured heavily. Most hymn text writers have been inspired to do that from time to time. In Multi-coloured Maze it was published accompanied by the tune UGADALE, written by June Baker. However, the tune that is sung in the accompanying recording is MANNHEIM, well known as the one most usually sung to the hymn, Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us. I used this tune, when writing the hymn, to keep a check on metre and the stresses of line and verse.

And a prayer:

Compassionate God, inspire us by these stories to be caring and loving in response to the needs of those around us. Help us to show your love by our actions. In Jesus’ name. Amen

When a blind man came to Jesus

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