John Newman became sick while in Italy and was unable to travel for almost three weeks. In his own words:
"Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, "I have a work to do in England." I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light, which have since become so well known.
Lead, Kindly Light was sung by a soloist on the RMS Titanic during a hymn-singing gathering led by Rev. Ernest C. Carter, shortly before the ocean liner struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912.
The verses are:
Lead, Kindly Light
"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus,
nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path;
but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
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,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
which I Have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith,
home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life."