Lowell Mason(1792–1872)Origin of the Hymn

Pal­mer wrote these lyr­ics up­on re­ceiv­ing a vi­sion of Christ short­ly af­ter his gra­du­a­tion from Yale Un­i­ver­si­ty, while work­ing as a tu­tor at a New York school. How­ev­er, he kept them to him­self un­til meeting Lo­well Ma­son on a street in Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

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When Ma­son asked him to write some­thing for a new hym­nal, Palmer dug out his old notes and pro­duced these lyr­ics, writ­ten two years ear­li­er. Af­ter tak­ing the lyr­ics home and read­ing them, Ma­son com­posed this tune.

Sev­er­al days lat­er he saw Palm­er again and said, You may live ma­ny years and do ma­ny good things, but I think you will be best known to pos­ter­i­ty as the au­thor of My Faith Looks Up to Thee.

Mrs. Lay­yah Bar­a­kat, a na­tive of Syr­ia, was ed­u­cat­ed in Bei­rut and then taught for a time in Egypt. Dri­ven out in 1882 by the in­sur­rec­tion of Ar­abi Pa­sha, she, with her hus­band and child, came to Am­er­i­ca by way of Mal­ta and Mar­seilles.

Her his­to­ry is a strange il­lus­tra­tion of God’s pro­vi­den­tial care, as they were with­out any di­rec­tion or friends in Phil­a­del­phia when they land­ed.

But the Lord took them into His own keep­ing, and brought them to those who had known of her in Syr­ia. While in this coun­try she fre­quent­ly ad­dressed large au­di­enc­es, to whom her deep ear­nest­ness and brok­en but pi­quant Eng­lish proved un­u­su­al­ly at­trac­tive.

Among oth­er in­ci­dents she re­lat­ed that she had been per­mit­ted to see the con­ver­sion of her whole fa­mi­ly, who were Mar­on­ites of Mount Le­ba­non. Her mo­ther, six­ty-two years of age, had been taught ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee’ in Ar­a­bic.

They would sit on the house roof and re­peat it to­ge­ther; and when the news came back to Syr­ia that the daugh­ter was safe in Am­er­i­ca, the mo­ther could send her no bet­ter proof of her faith and love than in the beau­ti­ful words of this hymn, as­sur­ing her that her faith still looked up to Christ.

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Sutherland, pp. 77–79

Layyah Barakat

My faith looks up to Thee,Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,O let me from this day be wholly Thine!

May Thy rich grace impartStrength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!

While life’s dark maze I tread,And griefs around me spread, be Thou my guide;Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

When ends life’s transient dream,When death’s cold sullen stream shall o’er me roll;Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!