Ina Duley Ogdon Home

Brighten The Corner Where You Are
Century House Preservations

Stories on how Ina Duley Ogdon has inspired you or what her song means to you. 

  Please email your story to Melissa at [email protected]. If you do not want your name listed just let me know otherwise I will add it.

Before the standard of “Americanism” was compared to a nine inch pastry filled with sliced pomaceous fruit, there was another, far more extensive, touchstone. “Theodore Roosevelt called it ‘the most American thing in America,’ Woodrow Wilson described it during World War I as an ‘integral part of the national defense,’ and William Jennings Bryan deemed it a ‘potent human factor in molding the mind of the nation.’ [1]” You are certainly not alone, however, if you have never heard of the Chautauqua Circuit.

This was a national pastime that began in the 19th century as a Sunday School training camp in New York, but by the 20th century had morphed into a traveling education in culture, religion, politics, history, and more. The American Symphony Orchestra of Chicago, The American Jubilee Singers, and the San Francisco Ballet Company were just a few of the world famous talents to take the stage. Lecturers such as William Jennings Bryan, the former President William Taft, and Joseph McCarthy joined hundreds of other scholars, statesmen, and preachers on the stage. Debates, plays, revival meetings, and the first correspondence school were all part of this enormous circuit that continued through the first half of the 20th century.


Undoubtedly, it would have been an honor just to attend such an event—one person commented, “[our] town was never the same after Chautauqua started coming.... It broadened our lives in many ways [2]." But to speak or perform in the circuit—could you imagine? Just one speaker who was part of Chautauqua is estimated to have reached “10,000 communities in 45 states to audiences totaling 45 million people [3].” Such an audience was nearly impossible to reach in any other way during that time, and even now would be difficult to obtain. (A TV show would perhaps be the closest one could come—and 45 million hits on a YouTube clip remains exceptional and elusive).

All of these thoughts must have been going through one young lady’s head when she was invited to speak on the tour in 1912. Excitement at the possibilities for advancing God’s kingdom filled her, but nervousness surely overcame her too at the thought of speaking before so many masses. She agreed, however, and bought her tickets, and eagerly told all her friends of the upcoming tour. Commitments were finished, her lectures were outlined, and prayers were being offered for her safe journey and Spirit-filled sessions. All that remained was to pack, say her good-byes, and be on her way. But while she was in the very act of gathering the necessities she would need for the trip, the terrible news came that her father had been seriously injured in a horseless carriage. There was nothing to be done but to call the directors of Chautauqua and cancel, to throw away her tickets, to unpack her bags, and to ask all her friends to change their prayers for her father instead of her.

 What a terrible blow it was to young Ina Duley Ogdon to give up what she had hailed as an opportunity from God to glorify Him. And yet, in those quiet moments at home, nursing her father back to health, God worked in her heart. Although she could almost hear the thunderous applause of the Chautauqua audience ringing in her ears, and her poor father, in pain from the accident, could barely muster a smile, God’s pleasure warmed her soul. There would always be other Chautauquas—and there would always be other lecturers to take her place. But at that time—in that place, the world would have to wait, for God wanted her most of all in a quiet, dark sickroom. Would she have brought glory to God as part of the Chautauqua Circuit? Probably—but the glory from man was just as tempting. Now, she had no glory or thanks or notice from men, but she had all those things from God, and she gave all those things back to God.

It’s little wonder that from those sober days, so far removed from the flamboyance of Chautauqua, Ina wrote “Tho into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer, brighten the corner where you are.” Ina glorified her God best when she was where He wanted her, and her corner shone bright and true indeed. How is your corner doing?
    One Bright Corner Website

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson was president, the Titanic wrecked, Gene Kelly was born, and Ina Duley Ogdon found herself staying at home.  She was tending to her injured father when she had planned to be speaking to thousands at Chautauqua. 

Fast forward one hundred years or so, and the year is 2009.  Barack Obama is president, an airplane crash-landed in the Hudson river, Michael Jackson died, and we still find ourselves having to turn from the glaring light of fame to the dark corners of obscurity.  We still find that the desire to do something great sours the sweetness of doing the unnoticed but foundational things.  This is why “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” is still so relevant to me.  This is why the song became an old favorite when I first read it, and why it has become a motto for my life.  Ina Ogdon turned from the great spotlight she could have experienced to her dark corner, and she rolled up her sleeves and resolved to light it with God’s light. 

When she wrote, “Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,” she lassoed the procrastinator in me that wants to struggle through this part of my life until I find something really great to do. 

When she wrote, “Tho’ into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,” she seized the people-pleaser in me that is more concerned with the jovial groups than with the lonely child in the corner. 

When she wrote, “Brighten the corner where you are,” she convicted me of all the winds of temptation and sin that I let blow at my feeble light, and suddenly I realized that the smaller my corner is, the brighter I can make it.  Matthew 5:14a says, “You are the light of the world,” and that includes all the nooks and crannies I can find! 

            It is not an old-world charm that makes “Brighten the Corner” so special.  It is not even the exceptional musical arrangement or the expert turning of words that has helped it to endure so long.  For me, it is the heart of one resolved young woman—Ina Duley Ogdon—speaking to this young woman over 100 years later saying, “Your little efforts are not little.  Your one word is not short.  Your one light is just what is needed to turn the tide.”  And I, in 2009, can only say, “Thank you, Ina.”


By Lauren    One Bright Corner 


"As a lad, Sharon Hudson had a paper route which included delivery to the home on Summerfield Road
 of Ina Duley Ogdon.   He remembers her as a kindly lady who on a summer day would give him a cold
 cloth to mop his brow and then a glass of her special homemade strawberry punch.

 As a youth Sharon had attended services at both  Liberty Corners Wesleyan and the Lambertville Methodist Church.
 He remembers often singing "Brighten the Corner Where you Are."

As a young Marine in WWII he served in the South Pacific.  While under attack by the Japanese at Henderson Airfield,   Guadalcanal,  when his fellow marines all began cursing their bad luck, Sharon  started humming

"Brighten the Corner Where You Are."  Before long everyone was singing the song and their spirits were lifted."
Local resident Allen Burkett has researched Ina Duley Ogdon and collected memorabilia for many years. I asked him what his interest with Ina was and he stated that it was his Mothers favorite song while in high school. Allen's Mother played the keyboard for many years for the City of Monroe and played "Brighten The Corner Where You Are", in later years she would visit nursing facilities throughout Monroe County and would play this famous hymn for the senior citizens. When Allen moved to Lambertville he found out that Ina had lived just around the corner from him and so his research on Ina Duley Ogdon began.  

Mother did not know the story behind the song, "Brighten the Corner." Years ago a little lady, Ina Duley Ogdon, was given a beautiful voice. Someone asked her to sing a concert tour around the world. She had anticipated the day when she could cover the globe and carry the bright light of Christ through her voice. She had signed the contract; the date had been set for her journey to begin. Just days before her departure, she found her father was taken seriously ill. No one else could care for him; only she! With some bitterness and much disappointment she cancelled her worldwide trip to use her voice to sing the praises of Christ and shine His light around the world!

Ina Ogdon looked at her aged father and saw him as he was nearing death. She realized that she could not take her trip. Her bitterness changed to joy, her disappointment changed to gratitude as she sat down one day and began to write, "Brighten the corner where you are; brighten the corner where you are; someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar if you brighten the corner where you are!"

What the soloist could not do with her journey she did with her sweet spirit as it went from her heart to her mind, from her mind to her pen, from her pen to the paper, from the paper to the hymnbook, and from the hymnbook to the whole world! Not just in her lifetime did she brighten the world, but she will do so as long as the song is sung!

That's your job--brighten your corner! The atmosphere of the office is determined more by the spirit of the secretaries than that of the bosses. The atmosphere of the home is determined more by the mother and wife than by the father and the children.

Mary Ann Napier Crans ‘36 recently wrote to Cottey and included the following information. O, what great memories I have of Cottey. During the two years I was there, it was at low ebb. The enrollment was dangerously low, and everybody had to do everything! But it was a close-knit group. We students had some sacrifices to make. I was often cold at night, since the heat had to be turned down a lot. But the spaghetti we ate was delicious, and the camaradie was unusually strong, and the academic level stayed high. There were three buddies, Cora Ganer Perkins was one, plus Barbara Harmon (Stallings) and Frances Mae Jenkins (Gottschalk) who would don their neatest outfits, and stroll down Main Hall, kicking the forbidden bell to rouse the rest of us much too early on a lazy Sunday morning, singing loudly, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are!" to the grumbling and gritted teeth of the rest of us. And the time when I, always the mischief maker, came in late at night, escorting some fellow sinners. I remember saying, "Keep quiet! This is how we do the door." And as we turned around there was Helen Watkins Burr, dreaded president of the Student Council and her bunch, waiting for us! I was campused a lot of the time! Later, Helen became a best friend, and we laughed at the memory. I would tell her how much I envied her solid grown-up character and her scholarship, and she would return with how jealous she was of me because I always seemed to have so much fun! Now, at 91, I am still looking toward the future. I teach piano, read with eclectic choices and do book reviews for a fee. I am still growing up, and I love life.   From the ViewPoint Web Site.


I think "Tomorrow’s Child," speaks to us across the generations with a message so simple yet so profound, reminding us that we are all part of the web of life, every last one of us. During our brief visit here, this beautiful blue planet, we have a really simple but profound choice to make—to help that web of life or to hurt it—and it’s your call how you live your life.

The final keynote—we have a long way to go, where do we start? When I was a child we sang a song in Sunday school, "Brighten the corner where you are."

Brighten the corner where you are.
Someone far from harbor
you may guide across the bar,
brighten the corner where you are.

And years later, I read a somewhat more sophisticated corollary in philosophy, Emmanuel Kant's categorical imperative, which said, "Before you do something, consider the consequences. What if everybody did it?" Brighten the corner where you are. What if everybody did it?

21st Century Policy Project

Text from Keynote Address given by Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Inc. and Co-Chair of the President's Council on Sustainable Development


 11/11/2009 Commercial News

Residents of small town pull together

Work on church is example of their efforts


CHENEYVILLE Cheneyville, 5 miles east of Hoopeston and just north of Illinois Route 9, is a town that works together toward a common goal, especially when it comes to the 118-year-old Cheneyville Church of Christ.

“There’s so few of us, that we have to do the work ourselves,” Betty Barron said. “(We) can’t afford to hire it done.”

During the previous two years, members replaced the old water line and put a new roof on the church. This year the goal of the residents was the removal and rededication of the church bell from its deteriorating tower station.

Getting the 1,200-pound bell out of the tower was a community effort, Barron said. A man lift was used last year to reach the bell tower and several men of the community slid the bell onto the lift to bring it down.

The bell was taken to Don and Betty Barron’s garage for storage until a platform on ground level could be built for the bell. While the bell was at the Barron residence, it was cleaned and restored by them.

Earlier this year three men, Wayne “Buzz” Reed, Roger Reed and Randy Reed set about the task of building the platform to house the bell. Ryan Odle then mounted the bell and Jack and Mary Jo Petersen paid for a sidewalk to the bell from the church sidewalk. The bell was rededicated on Aug. 30.

“It was a community project, otherwise it wouldn’t have gotten done,” Don Barron said. “I just want to thank everyone that helped on the project in every way.”

Cheneyville had its early beginnings about the same time as Hoopeston in the 1870s, a small village along the Lafayette, Bloomington and Western Rail line (later called the Lake Erie and Western and Nickel Plate Railroad). Named after J. H. Cheney, vice president of the Lake Erie and Western Railroad Company, the village had a population of 120 residents by 1930. It also had a hardware and drug store, several other stores, a post office, telephone company, a doctor, a grain elevator, and a school where church and Bible school services were held until 1891.

In February 1891, according to the Hoopeston paper, evangelist James Lester held an evangelistic meeting in Cheneyville. This prompted the community to raise funds toward a church building and by April 16, 1891, $800 had been raised. Joseph Kellogg began work on the new building in July and finished in September. The Cheneyville Church of Christ was dedicated on Oct. 8, 1891.

In the “History of the Cheneyville Church of Christ,” written in 1954, 109 members belonged to the church in 1915 with the building valued at $1,500. The doors to the church were closed in 1946 and reopened again in May 1951. It continues to serve Cheneyville residents to the present day.

It was also noted in the history of Cheneyville that Ina Dudley Ogdon, teacher in Cheneyville from 1896 to 1900, wrote more than 3,000 church hymns and published two volumes of verse, “A Keepsake from the Old House” and “Home Woods.” One of her hymns, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” was one of Billy Sunday’s favorite hymns.

Today, Cheneyville has a population of about 41 residents.















Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.