- “So Long thy Power Hath Blest Me, Sure it Still Will Lead Me on, O’er Moor and Fen, O’er Crag and Torrent, Till the Night is Gone …”
- Newman Studies Journal
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 5, Number 2, Fall 2008
- pp. 3-5
- View Citation
- Additional Information
NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 3 The photograph on this issue’s front cover features the interior of the National Institute for Newman Studies in Pittsburgh. Prominent in the photo is the opening line—“Lead,Kindly Light,amid the encircling gloom”—from Newman’s best known poem, which was titled “The Pillar of the Cloud” in his Verses on Various Occasions.1 The composition of the poem, on 16 June 1833, when he was returning from his Mediterranean voyage, marked a turning point in Newman’s life. His journey had almost been fatal—in Sicily, he contracted a life-threatening disease that brought him to the verge of death.2 As the above excerpt from the poem’s third stanza indicates, Newman attributed his recovery to divine “power,” which was seemingly leading him back to England for a purpose. That purpose began to take shape on his return to Oxford on 9 July 1833; as he later recalled: The following Sunday, July 14th, Mr. Keble preached the Assize Sermon in the University Pulpit. It was published under the title of “National Apostasy.” I have ever considered and kept the day,as the start of the religious movement of 1833.3 For Newman, the next dozen years were a pilgrimage graced by amazing accomplishments yet marked by anguishing questions: though guided by a “kindly light,” he was to encounter circumstantial crags and theological torrents before the night was gone. “Lead, Kindly Light” continues to speak to modern audiences. Anyone who has been uncertain about the future, anyone who has trudged through the routine difficulties of daily life, anyone who has struggled with seemingly insurmountable challenges—experiences a sense of relief when“the night is gone.” Indeed, one may have to pass through darkness in order to appreciate the“Kindly Light.” The stanzas of this poem evoke an awareness of both the presence and the guidance of 1 “The Pillar of the Cloud,”poem 90 in Verses onVarious Occasions,156-157,was one of nearly a hundred poems that Newman wrote immediately prior to, as well as during, his Mediterranean voyage (see Verses on Various Occasions—starting with poem 22 on 16 November 1832 and concluding with poem 115 on 27 June 1833). Poem 90 is available at: http://www.newmanreader.org/works/verses/verse90.html. 2 See Newman’s account,“My Illness in Sicily”in John Henry Newman:AutobiographicalWritings,edited by HenryTristram (NewYork:Sheed andWard,1957),109-138. Ian Ker,John Henry Newman:A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 77, has hypothesized:“It seemed he had fallen victim to an epidemic of gastric or typhoid fever,from which numbers of people were dying,and which was often accompanied by cholera.” 3 Apologia proVita Sua,35;available at:http://www.newmanreader.org/works/apologia65/index.html; however, Newman’s diary entry for Sunday 14 July 1833, is more prosaic:“Keble preached in morning Assize Sermon for me in evening” (Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman 4: 5). EDITORIAL PREFACE “SO LONG THY POWER HATH BLEST ME, SURE IT STILL WILL LEAD ME ON, O'ER MOOR AND FEN, O’ER CRAG AND TORRENT, TILL THE NIGHT IS GONE . . .” JOHN HENRY NEWMAN NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 4 Providence in the personal,yet often problematic,life of each Christian. “Lead,Kindly Light” are then words which thematize Newman’s life-journey and our own, thus, these words seem particularly appropriate for the National Institute for Newman Studies—a place where those who study Newman’s thought will hopefully find guidance in both their scholarly journeys and their spiritual pilgrimages by following the lead of the “Kindly Light.” CONTENTS OF THE FALL ISSUE Newman’s intellectual journey and spiritual pilgrimage developed in a number of ways—but especially as an educator and as a preacher. Yet, as M. Katherine Tillman shows so well in her discussion of “The Gentleman of the University and the Gentleman of the Oratory,” education, for Newman, is not simply an accumulation of knowledge, nor mere acquisition of professional skills, nor even a process of cultural refinement; a student’s enlargement of mind needs to be accompanied by moral development. Accordingly, for Newman, university education is incomplete without providing a place for theology...