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“My Faith Looks Up to Thee”
Many of our hymns were composed as Christians – the majority of them theologians – wrote exactly what they felt in their hearts at the time.  Such was the case in the writing of “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.”
Ray Palmer, fresh out of Yale, went to New York to teach school for a while.  After a particularly discouraging year of illness and loneliness, he sat in his room one evening to put in verse form the feelings of his heart, which he had done since childhood.  This night the Lord seemed particularly near and dear to him, and he began to write:
My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Saviour divine!
Now hear me when I pray;
Take all my guilt away;
Oh, let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!
On and on he wrote until four stanzas were completed.  He copied them from the single sheet into his pocket notebook so he could refer to them when he needed a lift, never intending for anyone else to see them.
Several months later Ray Palmer met Dr. Lowell Mason on a street in Boston.  Dr. Mason asked him to furnish some hymns for a hymnal that he and Dr. Hastings were about to publish.  For the first time, Mr. Palmer displayed his poem.  Dr. Mason stepped into a store and hurriedly copied the words on another sheet of paper.  The words so impressed him that he wrote a tune for them, called “Olivet.”
A few days later the two met again.  Dr. Mason said to Mr. Palmer, “You may live many years and do many things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of this song.”  Dr. Mason was not wrong.
May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart,
My zeal inspire;
As Thou hast died for me,
Oh, may my love to Thee
Pure, warm, and changeless be,
A living fire!
Now we skip to the fourth verse:
When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold, sullen stream
Shall o’er me roll,
Blest Saviour, then, in love,
Fear and distrust remove;
Oh, bear me safe above,
A ransomed soul!