Send Out Your Light (Artful Devotion)

Lighthouse in Westkapelle by Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944), Lighthouse in Westkapelle [in Orange], 1909. Oil on canvas, 39 × 29 cm. Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan.

O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.

—Psalm 43:3


SONG: “Let Your Light Shine on Me” | Traditional, performed by Blind Willie Johnson, 1929


About the painting: Before he became a world-famous pioneer of geometric abstraction, Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) spent his early artistic career painting pastoral images of his native Netherlands in an impressionist style—churches, windmills, fields, rivers, sand dunes, and lighthouses. He made several paintings, using different color palettes, of the “tall lighthouse” of Westkapelle, which stands at the entrance to the village. The structure is actually a fifteenth-century Gothic church tower that was converted into a lighthouse in 1818 after the church burned down. It is still active, serving along with the “short lighthouse” to lead vessels coming in from the northern part of the North Sea. The loose pointillist technique Mondrian uses here enables him to fuse the lighthouse with the surrounding sky, producing a sense of vibration and ethereality.

About the singer: Blind Willie Johnson (1897–1945) was a gospel blues singer, slide guitarist, and evangelist from Texas about whom little is known. Besides the one-time payments he received from Columbia for his studio recordings of 1927–30, most of his income was earned by performing and preaching on the streets; appreciative passersby would drop coins into the tin cup tied to his Stella. Johnson is known for his unique style of singing: in a gravelly “false bass,” or growl, which he drops into in verse 2 of “Let Your Light Shine on Me.” His is the earliest known recording of this traditional gospel song.

This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for Proper 26, cycle A, click here.

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