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Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Follow the Gleam" -- A Song of Christendom

"Follow the Gleam" is essentially a song of Christendom. It acknowledges the King and challenges the listener to extend His rule over all the world.

My mother used to sing "Follow the Gleam", and I found great appeal in the combination of knightly ideals with a lilting melody. Although it originated in a song writing contest of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), I think it reflects the character and mission of Christian manhood.

According to Kihm Winship, the inspiration for the song came from Arthurian legend. Specifically, it originated from . . .

Tennyson’s 1889 poem, “Merlin and the Gleam,” about the quest for the Holy Grail, which ends:

“O young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel,
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow The Gleam.”
(Read, Seen Heard)

In later life, the lyricist Helen Hill Miller wanted to cut all ties with the song, presumably because she had abandoned the faith of her youth. By way of contrast, composer Sallie Douglas Hume regarded her contribution of the melody as a high point in her life. (To hear the melody, CLICK HERE)

Here are the lyrics:

To knights in the days of old,
Keeping watch on the mountain height,
Came a vision of Holy Grail
And a voice through the waiting night.

“Follow, follow, follow the Gleam,
Banners unfurled o’er all the world;
Follow, follow, follow the Gleam
Of the chalice that is the Grail.

“And we who would serve the King,
And loyally Him obey,
In the consecrate silence know,
That the challenge still holds today:

“Follow, follow, follow the Gleam,
Standards of worth o’er all the earth,
Follow, follow, follow the Gleam,
Of the Light that shall bring the dawn


  1. It was one of my mother's favoritr hymns... and it is planted in my memory... the words will appear in my Epiphany sermon as we are challenged to "follow the gleam" much as the magi did "in days of old".

  2. One of the favorite hymns of my youth! Thanks for giving this background.