Dayspring From On High

Sunday, July 4, 2021
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Luke 1:77-79 – To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (KJV)

Do you know the story of the Dayspring Mission? It is a fascinating story of courage, determination, and sacrifice. In the 1860s, the Presbyterian Board of Missions decided that the New Hebrides Mission (Vanuatu today) should have a large boat of its own. A vessel, large for those days, was built in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada, to go back and forth between the different islands and to carry missionaries back and forth. Her name was to be Dayspring, inspired by Luke 1:78, as we were all visited by the first Dayspring from on high.

The children of the Maritime Provinces in Canada raised most of the money to build her, so we may truly say that the Dayspring was the children's boat.

In January 1864, John and Charlotte Geddie left Aneityum to begin their long journey home, their very first visit since 1846. It certainly was time to be having a rest. On the way, at Melbourne, Australia, they were delighted to meet the Dayspring and a band of new missionaries on their way to the New Hebrides. The Dayspring made many visits back and forth from the New Hebrides to Canada, where little children went on board and dropped their offering of money into a big box that had been made to receive their offerings. On her trips home, she visited different ports, that all might feel that they had a share in her work.

This is such an inspiring story from the church's past, and it reminds us that we all have a part to play in God's mission, whether young or old, whether halfway around the world or next door with neighbours and friends. We all can share the story of Jesus, the Dayspring from on high Who has visited us!

Prayer (from the fifth century): "O Lord, direct our steps this day into the way of peace, and strengthen our hearts to obey Your commandments. May the Dayspring visit us from on high, and give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, that they may adore You for Your mercy, follow You for Your truth, desire You for Your sweetness, for You are the blessed Lord God of earth, now and forever. Amen."

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About the author:

Kenn Stright <>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Beautiful story, Kenn.

    Thank you Kenn. This prayer is special too.

    What a delightful sail in memory lane of stories of old.

    Thank you, Kenn, for sharing this encouraging devotional with us.

    The 5th Century prayer is sure appropriate for today, Kenn. Thanks for sharing your inspiration.

    Wow! We sure needed a good-news story, with all the indigenous stuff coming down the pike! Thanks.

    I’m from this area and knew about Camp Geddie but not the Dayspring. Very interesting story. Thanks, and blessings Kenn!

    There was a 1960 church plant in London, Ontario called DaySprings!
    However, your history lesson was new learning for me! Thank you with God’s blessings.

    We live in a society that puts major emphasis on diplomas. These tell us little about what kind of human being holds them.
    How wonderful we have no concerns of that mature about the Son of God.
    Thanks for your insights.

    Thank you, Kenn,
    Your message brought memories of my sister to me. She was a devote Christian and member Presbyterian church Dayspring.
    I did not know ‘back story’

    Hello Kenn,
    Many thanks for your very enlightening devotional today. Certainly, the way things are in our world these days we need the Lord to guide our daily steps into the light of peace. “Dayspring” sounds like a delightful ride!
    Blessings for another of your special writings.

    I visited Geddie Memorial church in Springbrook, PEI, and took pictures.
    I volunteered my husband to help out at the church three times. Well, he helped out all summer long. One day I went with him and while I was waiting, I just went through and took some pictures. He was so supportive of the church at Geddie.
    Then our world fell apart. He died early this year, and it was really horrible. I can’t live with a “what if”. Somehow prayers got me through, and I have no idea why God is so gracious to me.
    Thank-you for your message.

    Good morning Kenn,
    I had to look up three things to learn more from your devotional. I needed to know where New Hebrides was, where New Glasgow was and the meaning of “dayspring”. I truly know a little more today than I did before.
    I loved your story of this mission and the part that the children of the Maritime provinces played in the 1860’s. I read that “dayspring” is no longer used in different translations of the Bible to avoid confusion because the meaning of the word has changed over the years. Your story reminded me of the book I read on the mission work along the cost of British Columbia that was done by boat. It was also a very inspiring story.
    Thank you for the prayer to ask our Lord to be with us through the darkness and shine his light on us. May you have a blessed day and continue to inspire others.

    Thank you for today’s message, I thought you may be interested in my experience of the children’s ship.
    In Britain there was a halfpenny coin minted, with a sailing ship on the reverse side, it was called a ‘ship ha’penny. Someone in Scotland got the bright idea of collecting them in the churches to go towards the ‘new Dayspring’. They were collected each week in Sunday School. In those days, a ha’penny could buy candy, or a small ice cream cone, two could buy a large cone to share with friends, one lick at a time, so giving them to the Church was a real sacrifice! The great day came when the children were all packed into Glasgow tram cars and taken to the dock area to see OUR boat! It looked very small next to the ocean liners, but we were PROUD of it, and would have started all over again. I am sure many of us became addicted to collecting for missions from that day on. Thank God, and for the people who worked to make it happen.

    I appreciate learning about who is Dayspring. What a tender story about the children.

    Kenn, Your devotional caught my attention because I recently read the autobiography of John G. Paton published by the Banner of Truth. The various Dayspring ships are described there. Sadly, the final one sank on her fourth voyage to the New Hebrides. In spite of the tragedy, much good resulted, as this mission work became known worldwide through the massive fundraising efforts. This terrible tragedy taught me that with God, our work is never a waste – in spite of grievous loss.


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