Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty

This hymn about wisdom was written by English Roman Catholic convert and Sacred Heart sister and educator Janet Erskine Stuart, whose religious name was Sister / Mother Janet Stuart RSCJ (1857 - 1914).

The text appears to be based on Wisdom 6, and a contemporary version (unattributed) is also widely used.

With irregular meter, is usually set to the traditional Gaelic hymn tune DOMHNACH TRIONOIDE (literally Trinity Sunday), also known as COLUMCILLE.  But there have been other arrangements, including one released in 2013 by Justin Taylor (see video below).


Original lyrics

Contemporary lyrics


Solo singer with harp and backing:

Professional choir with heavy backing:

Choir with piano - alternative tune:


Traditional words

Spirit seeking light and beauty,
Heart that longest for thy rest,
Soul that asketh understanding,
Only thus can ye be blest.
Thro’ the vastness of creation
Tho’ your restless thought may roam,
God is all that you can long for,
God is all his creatures' home.

Taste and see him, feel and hear him,
Hope and grasp his unseen hand;
Tho’ the darkness seem to hide him,
Faith and love can understand.
God, who lovest all thy creatures,
All our hearts are known to thee;
Lead us thro’ the land of shadows
To thy blest eternity.

Modern English

Spirit seeking Light and Beauty,
Hearts still longing for your rest,
You whose thirst for understanding
Is an aching in the breast.
Through the vastness of creation
Though your restless heart may roam,
One alone can quench the burning,
Only one your spirit’s home.

Taste and see it, touch and hear it,
Hope and grasp the unseen Hand.
Though the darkness cloud your vision,
Trust the heart to understand.
There is light in every moment,
Close as breathing, free as wind.
Understanding finds the seeker,
Beauty waits the heart within.

ABC Notation

T:Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty
T:Janet Erskine Stuart
B/2c/2|"Bm"d d "F#m7"c/2A/2| "Bm"B B B/2c/2| d d "A"e |"F#7"f2 f/2e/2|
w:Spir-it see-king light and beau-ty, heart that longest for thy rest, Soul that
|"Bm"f B B |"F#m7"A F F|"D"A/2A/2 F/2F/2 "C#m" E/2E/2| "F#"F2 "F#m7"F/2A/2 |
w:ask-eth un-der-stand-ing, on-ly thus can ye be blest. Thro’ the
"Bm"B B B/2c/2|"D"d d "Bm"B/2c/2 | d d "A/C#"e/2e/2 | "D"f2 f/2e/2|
w:vast-ness of cre-a-tion tho’ your restless thought may_ roam. God is
f "A" a f/2e/2 |"D"f/2d/2 B "F#m7"B/2d/2 |c "Bm" B B/2B/2| B2 z|]
w:all that you can lo-ng for, God is all his crea-tures' home.

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