HYMN 152 O Jesus, Let my Eyes be Opened
Norwegian: O Jesu åpne du mitt øye
Swedish: O Jesu öppna du mitt öga
2 Thessalonians 2:14
Text: Lina Sandell (1832-1903). Tune: Heinrich Pfeil (1835-1899)
1. O Jesus, let my eyes be opened,
So I can see what I’ve been giv’n:
That I’ve a Father in the highest
Whose Father’s heart would give me heav’n,
Whose Father’s heart would give me heav’n.
2. I have a brother high in heaven
At God’s right hand, who cares for me.
He sends his grace, so overflowing,
As wide as God’s eternity,
As wide as God’s eternity.
3. I have a solace for my sorrow,
A comforter and hope for good.
I have eternal life forever,
Eternal peace in Jesus’ blood,
Eternal peace in Jesus’ blood.
4. I have a life, yes, life abundant,
The richest grace, yes, it is true.
I have a crown of life more glorious,
A heritage that’s always new.
A heritage that’s always new.
5. O Jesus, come make clear my vision
So I can see your glory shine.
And never lose your great salvation,
All you have giv’n to make it mine,
All you have giv’n to make it mine.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
Lina Sandell was twenty-nine when she wrote this hymn. She had just moved to Stockholm from her small village in Småland to work at the publishing house of the Swedish revival, Evangeliska Fosterlandsstiftelsen (EFS). Her mother had recently died. She had already written "Children of the Heavenly Father" when much younger, but this hymn she wrote after the shocking death of her father, Jonas Sandell, in 1858.
They had been traveling to Gothenberg to meet with a pastor there to discuss the issue of temperance with him. Lina's father had been a bit reluctant to go; he had asked his wife to go, but she refused. Lina came along as his secretary. They were taking a boat across Lake Vättern. They were on deck in the morning. As he reached to take her hand, a wave came and pulled him into the water. All she saw of him after that was his white hair bobbing in the water. He was gone. She suffered something of a catatonic spell for a while after that and could only be revived by a reading of Psalm 77 which they had read the night before.
Now, in 1861, she had left her home to work in Stockholm. A remarkable thing at the time, a young single woman going to work on her own in the city and have a significant job as translator, writer and editor. Her father's friends had noticed her gifts while she was still a teenager and recommended her to Rosenius, recommending she receive a good salary. Her first task was to help edit the hymnal Pilgrimsharpan. She was assistant editor of this songbook and wrote this hymn for it.
Whether or not this is a response to her father’s death we cannot quite know, but it certainly speaks to a heart that is troubled. It starts with the prayer that she can see what has been hidden from her. She then moves on to naming more and more of the glories that have been hidden from her eyes.
Much of what we have in Christ can be hidden from us because we cannot "see to see" as the poet has it. Faith sees with a deeper vision than our normal sight. After prayer a light may surprise us and we can see far more than we knew was there. Rather like glimpses of eternity flashing before our eyes. Doubt can blind us to these riches; or we can simply be distracted from what is important and lose our vision. What Sandell prays for and shows us are the riches right before our eyes if we could only see them. Pray for such vision.
This first appeared in the hymnal Pilgrimsharpan,1861. a song book published by the Swedish revival. It quickly became popular. The tune came from a German composer who had originally composed this melody for a male chorus anthem. When it became the tune for this hymn we do not know, but it was before 1920.