Monday, May 29, 2017

When Morning Gilds the Skies

We don't often sing the hymn, "When Morning Gilds the Skies," but after our incessantly gloomy winter and spring, now that the sunshine has finally arrived, I find myself humming this old favourite.

When morning gilds the skies, My heart awaking cries,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, To Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

To God, the Word, on high, The host of angels cry,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals, to, up-raise, Their voice in hymns of praise;
May Jesus Christ by praised!

Let earth's wide circle round In joyful notes resound,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth and sea and sky, From depth to height, reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, My canticle divine,
May Jesus Christ be prised!
Be this the eternal song, Through all the ages on,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The hymn is similar to many of the psalms with its constant refrain of praise.  It is also reminiscent of  the opening of Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of His hands."  
In the letter to the Romans, Paul states "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, that that people are without excuse."
In the first stanza we see the rising sun and give praise.  We move through the day at work or prayer and give praise.  Angels and mortals all give praise.  The whole earth, from depth to height give praise.  Finally, the poet invokes the praise of Christ in eternity.

Translated from the German by Edward Caswall, it began appearing in hymnbooks in 1854. Distinguished English poet and translator Robert Bridges amended the translation in 1899, noting that  “It is of great merit, and I have tried to give a better version of it than the current one, keeping the original metre, preserving the first lines of the old translation, since it is by them that the hymn is known.” The hymn's popularity grew to a high point in the 1980's. I remember singing it in elementary school -- back when the school day began with a Bible reading, the Lord's prayer, a hymn and the national anthem. 

The tune, “Laudes Domini”, was composed by Joseph Barnby (1838-1896), an English organist and choirmaster who was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1892.  The soaring melody mimics the rising of the sun and demands the worshipper to stand straight and praise with conviction.

Enjoy the sunshine, and don't forget to praise Jesus Christ in the morning and in the evening and in all phases of your day.

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