“This little discrepancy of mine”

2.20.2008 — 30 Comments

The Sunday School song, “This Little Light of Mine” – sung by thousands of us church-kids growing up has been brought to new light (pun not intended, but I laughed out loud when Jess pointed this phrase out to me) this week in my life.

My beautiful wife ‘called me out’ on some of my lyrics as I sang them aloud:

“Hide it under a bushel, NO!”

To which she said, “No, No, No – it’s, ‘Hide it under a bush, Oh No!”

To which I replied, “you’re an idiot.” (maybe it wasn’t that harsh…)

She then got ‘scientific’ on me and said, “a bushel is merely a unit of measurement and can’t actually impede the flame of a fire, but a bush is a literal object that could be placed above a flame to cause it to extinguish.” (okay, she didn’t really say these exact words, but you get the picture…)

To which I replied, “you’re an idiot.”

To which she replied, “Google-it.” (the solution to ALL marital strife)

A quick Google-search (more-importantly, a Wikipedia article) reveals that sure-enough a “bushel” is merely a unit of measurement, and not synonymous with the bushel basked we’re all familiar making with our cupped hand while singing this song. I also found enough lyrics defending BOTH of our “right answers” via Google.

So, stevansheets.com readership… what is it? Is it:

01. “Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine.”
02. “Hide it under a bush, Oh NO! I’m gonna let it shine.”
03. “Hide it under a bushel basket lined with fire-retardant fabric, Oh NO! I’m gonna let it shine.”

Please advise this twenty-something who’s childhood theology is based upon your answer to this question.

  • Jason

    I’m sorry Jess, but this is a no brainer, it’s obviously ‘bushel.’ The idea is that in olden days they would keep a lamp burning all night, but they would put it under a basket or more probably a pot to keep the light from shining throughout the house. On the other hand what sense does putting a light under a bush make if you were trying to hide the light? For one are you going to uproot a bush to put the light under it? or two just putting a light on the ground under a bush wouldn’t conceal it very well. And three putting a light under a bush would quite possibly catch the bush on fire which would definitely not further your cause of concealing the light. Also,
    I checked on the CCLI and of the two versions of the song on there one says bushel, the other says bucket.
    And as for the idea that bushel technically is only a unit of measure, but it is also a type of basket…a bushel basket. And since this song would be considered a spiritual which are given to slang, it is quite feasible that the author would just drop the word basket.

    But we’ll still love you even if you sing a simple children’s song, wrong. :)


  • Jaena

    I gotta agree with Jason. Hiding a flame under a bush would just start a fire. It’s “Hide it under a bushel – No!” :)

  • http://pastorelissa.blogspot.com Elissa

    I have always sang, “hide it under a bushel No!” so I’m going with Stevan on this one. Sorry, Jess!

  • Momma Sweeny

    I’m not going w/either. Flame, fire, ummm let’s see–Steven wouldn’t try to hide it–he’d have that flame so stinkin’ high and wide, the fire department would have to come try to put it out–oh my!

  • http://derekandchristincarpenter.blogspot.com Derek

    I like option three!! am I right???

  • kory

    My childhood ears always heard it as bushel…but Jess makes such a compelling argument I may start singing it her way. (Although, what kind of bush is this? Because if it’s a dry bush it would fuel the fire, while a healthy, wet and green bush would retard the flame.) Wow…the conversation just got deep!

  • Kathy


  • Aunt Bea

    I vote bushel, but what do I know!? Recently, I was singing to 2 yr. old Reagan, “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the calvary….”. Esther, Reagan’s mom, pointed out that I should be singing “cavalry”, not “calvary”. She was so right!! I was horrified that the past years when teaching preschoolers in SS, I had misled all of those dear children. I’ll have a lot of ‘splaining to do in Heaven.

  • http://pastorelissa.blogspot.com Elissa

    So I dont know if the skype sent you my message or not, so I thought I would post the link here…it’s a must see.

  • Brian

    I guess I’ll be the odd guy out…I’m with Jess, “bush oh NO.”

  • Eric

    Bushel for sure!

  • Jim Sheets

    What difference does it make, Bush, Bushel, Basket, etc., as long as your light is shining. But I fear someone’s light is about to go out if he calls his wife and “idiot.”

  • Aunt Bonnie

    Bushel makes more sense to me……..AND…..I agree with Jim Sheets about the prediction of ‘your lights going out’. I know that you wouldn’t call your wife an idiot, out loud. If you do, she has Aunt Bonnie’s permission to punch your lights out. Now! That’s sounds bad, typed out, just like your ‘idiot’ did. Ahhh, we better hold back on our drama.

  • Sherri

    Maybe this website will help, http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/t030.html
    I was taught bushel in Sunday school.

  • http://www.stevansheets.com Stevan

    Wow this sparked some interesting dialog, didn’t it?! That’s exciting.

    I should clarify that I would NOT call my wife an idiot if I valued my opportunity to breath (or the ability to sing as a tenor and not a soprano)!

    Thanks for your input! I’m still holding strong to BUSHEL. Jess doesn’t have Internet access or she’d be diving into this discussion too!

  • Kathy

    One would wonder if the husband has Internet access why doesn’t the wife? Hummmmmmmmmm…

  • Jason

    I found entry #2 on this site (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bushel) interesting:
    “2. a container of this capacity.”

  • http://www.pkandj.blogspot.com Uncle Ken and Aunt Judy

    From the Children’s Pastor’s perspective…

    After much debate and thought, and of course beseeching of our Heavenly Song Leader, the official ruling is….


    Don’t let Satan **phffff** it out!

  • http://www.sherilynsheets.com sher

    i bet u $10 mom and I are thinking the same thoughts right now.

  • http://www.adventuresinpoop.blogspot.com Jenn

    Your lovely wife is right! It’s bush! Always has been, always will be!

  • http://kristinjhand.com Kristin

    The KJV says this “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:15)

    Since the song is a way of remembering that passage, I am going with bushel.

  • http://www.aglimpseintokennyslife.blogspot.com cousin kenny

    Hide it under a bushel no! teach your daughter right man come on.

  • http://www.jessicasheets.com Jess

    Ok, friends! Here’s the deal: I think I sang it both ways growing up and it wasn’t until I was older that I thought about the lyrics. Those of you who actually gave arguments have merit–those who said it was just the way you’ve always sung it so therefore it is right doesn’t really help us figure out anything now, does it? Thanks to Jason for finding a second definition–I can handle being wrong, unlike my husband, at times!:-) Also, I was thinking that the song may have been sung using the term, ‘bushel’ because it would have been the King James’ version–that makes sense why I grew up with it this way (Ind. Baptist roots that I have. I just felt like logically, it didn’t make as much sense that way. Now, I think we’ll just see which one Ella says after we both sing our versions together–you can barely hear the difference anyway.

    Aunt Bea–I figured out that I sang “calvary” forever, too, until I taught Junior church and though about it! Don’t worry!:-) This is what happens when we’re older and get to discuss what was sung to us!:-)

  • Jodi

    You guys are too funny. I was always hung up on that “bushel” thing too, so thanks for doing the research Stevan! :)

  • Uncle David

    I’m sorry to now set you all straight. . . but it’s about time. . . I can’t take this any more. . .

    Stevan, your Father taught me the correct wording when I was “too young to know better”. Again. . . I believed him because my big brother would never lead me astray, right?

    Well, he proudly announced to me and tried to talk me into singing the phrase “correctly” the next time we were in Mrs. Russell’s Catechism class. . . and here’s how it went down. . .

    “Hide it under a bush. . .’ELL NO!”

    (my apologies to tender ears and eyes. . .but you had to know)

  • http://www.sherilynsheets.com sher

    SERIOUSLY?!?!?! if that indeed IS TRUE – that’s the most amazing story I’ve ever heard of my dad and it makes me make a lot more sense too!! :) WOW!!!!!

  • Grandma Sally Sheets (aka-“Mom”)

    SOME of this seems to have gone to the NEED to HURRY and HIDE it UNDER A HUGE BUSH!!!!!!!

    DAVID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…NOT PAUL??!!…COULDN”T HAVE BEEN MORE TRUTHFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m for it not being hid under a “bushel”, and have always seen that making perfect sense (of course with always the unsaid understanding of it being a bushel basket, and with it making sense that it would be able to still be lit and shining, but be so dimmed by the significant bars of wood of the bushel (basket) covering the brilliance of the light shining when open completely to the darkness! There is an analogy there – to us NOT allowing things to hinder us (our light) from shining as God intends it from us!

    And to our dear precious granddaughter Ella. what we have decided, is that Grandpa Paul Sheets WON’T be teaching you ‘that song’, OR his Dad (because everyone knows … “like Father/like son”) and neither will it be his brother David (having been ruined by the ‘OLDER’ sibling’s BAD influence) and so now…your family feels that for teaching you this song, it should be taught to you by your Mother (the innocent one)!! So, Ella will be singing…”bush, OH NO”!!

    Probably indeed true Sher (both your entries)!!!

  • http://www.jessicasheets.com Jess

    HA! HA! HA! I will do my best!:-)

  • MomGarrett/Mamaw LeeAnn

    Ha Ha Ha Ha etc…… Wow Ella, you have many relatives and friends that are going to want to hear you someday sing “This Little Light of
    Mine”. I hope your daddy saves these comments for your mommy to scrapbook for you. Very hilarious and enlightening conversations!!

    Now I’ve been told by my sister and brother-in-law (Melanie and Matt) that David Sheets is ornery, and now I can tell them that his big brother, Paul had a large hand in making him this way. You guys crack me up!!!!

  • CMW

    Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
    Matthew 5:15