Error report


This Little Light of Mine (Denis)

Submitted by


On December 31, 2011

Error description

This Little Light of Mine

I have two significant errors to report about this work. The first concerns the writer/composer and the second concerns the original recording and release. In this note I'll focus on the writer/composer and save the original recording for another note.

There is compelling evidence that "This Light of Mine" was written by Harry Dixon Loes. I'll give a few online references.

1) James Parrish, who works in music PR and digital marketing in Great Britain, has a blog in which he states

"This Little Light of Mine was written in the 1920s as a song for children by a white northern pastor/music teacher, Harry Dixon Loes. Inspired by one or more of several Gospels which reference the Lord’s shining light, it became a staple of Sunday School teaching across the U.S."…

2) The Caltech Christian Fellowship site at the California Institute of Technology has the following information about this song.

This Little Light of Mine

Words and music by Harry Dixon Loes.

Public Domain.


This little light of mine,


I'm gonna let it shine.


This little light of mine,


I'm gonna let it shine.


This little light of mine,

G B Em

I'm gonna let it shine,

G D7 G

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO!

I'm gonna let it shine...

Won't let Satan blow it out,

I'm gonna let it shine...

Let it shine 'till Jesus comes,

I'm gonna let it shine...

3) The New Your Daily news published an article on the life and death of Odetta in which it was stated

"What they all needed to do that day, she said, was tell the grownups not to start a war, because war never solved anything. As she and the children shivered in their winter coats, she told them how important it was for them to raise their voices for what was right, even if it sometimes seemed like no one was listening. Then she led them in singing “This Little Light of Mine,” a song of quiet defiance that was written by Harry Dixon Loes for the church, but quickly made its way to the streets and in the 1950s became a civil rights anthem."…

4) GIA Publications, Inc, publisher of music education materials credit Loes as the composer/writer for "This Little Light of Mine".

5) Richard Matteson, Jr., Bluegrass Picker's Tune Book attributes words and music for "This Little Light of Mine" to Harry Dixon Loes. This book also indicates that the song was written in the early part of the 20th century. (See attachment.)

Here's a short bio for Harry Dixon Loes.

He was born October 20, 1892 in Kalamazoo. Michigan and died February 9, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois. He was a musical director at various churches prior to his appointment to the music faculty at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He remained at Moody from 1939 until his death in 1965.

The GIA publications site indicates that the lyrics for "This Little Light of Mine" were suggested by Matthew 5:16

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Note: Loes published several religious songbooks primarily intended for children. He has many songs copyrighted but I couldn't find copyright details for "This Little Light of Mine" in his name.


Comment by Denis
2012-10-15 15:01:27 UTC

Thanks for the extended info, I adjusted the work.

Change by shs
2016-03-09 00:00:00 UTC
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