“This Little Light of Mine” is a children’s gospel song written by composer and teacher Harry Dixon Loes. Loes, who studied at the Moody Bible Institute and the American Conservatory of Music, was a musical composer, and teacher, who wrote, and co-wrote several gospel songs. The song has since entered the folk tradition with John Lomax being the first to collect it in 1939. Later on, Zilphia Horton, one among the many activists that time with the Civil rights movement, modified it. It was a song of personal empowerment during the Civil Rights Era. In addition, it was an anthem of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. However, it has since been a fighting song in many struggles. Over the years, the song had a lot of revisions and we chose to give you Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives version.

Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives included in in their Gospel Bluegrass Homecoming Vol 1 album. Marty Stuart is a known American country music singer-songwriter, known for both his traditional style, and eclectic merging of rockabilly, honky tonk, and traditional country music. In the early 1990s, he had a successful string of country hits. Together with his band, His Fabulous Superlatives, they have recorded various gospel songs which they performed in his television entertainment The Marty Stuart Show. Each episode also features the music of his wife, Connie Smith, banjo-picker Leroy Troy, and guests.

Song Anatomy

Although the words of the song have a Biblical theme, it is vague as to which specific Bible verse it is based upon. Today, many versions of the song are available. In one source, the song took its theme from Matthew 5:16,

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heaven.”

Alternatively, it may also refer to the words of Jesus in Luke 11:33, where he said,

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”

Its lyrics talk about the significance of unity in the face of adversity. Its refrain sings of the light in each person, and how whether standing up alone or joining together, each little bit of light can break the darkness.

“This little light of mine

 I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine over the whole wide world

I’m gonna let it shine.”