(written for the young men of Winchester College) (#165 in the 1940 Hymnal), a Devotion for 16 March 2021 Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. 6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” (Psalms 77:5,6; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
This is another fine example of the spiritual depth and meaning of the old Anglican hymns. The title in the 1940 Hymnal is ‘All Praise to Thee, my God, this Night.’ However, this is not the name given by its author “An Evening Hymn(1674),” Therefore I will honor him by using his own titles and words. The 1940 Hymnal also took the liberty to change some words of the author and to abbreviate its length; however, I consider the fuller hymn of such majestic beauty that I will post seven rather than four verses of it unchanged from the original words of the author – Bishop Thomas Ken – a staunch anti-Romanist and non-juror Bishop. The hymn is one of thanksgiving and praise for the blessings of the day and future prospects for the morrow. Both the first and last lines are words of PRAISE. The last stanza is the moist noteworthy in hymnology – the Anglican DOXOLOGY. The tune of the Hymnal is TALLIS, but I prefer the OLD HUNDREDTH. (tune of the Doxology) The meter of the verses is consistent with that of the King James Bible.
AN EVENING HYMN
All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.
Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.
Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the judgment day.
O may my soul on Thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.
When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.
O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns divine with angels sing,
All praise to thee, eternal King?
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
All praise to Thee, my God, this night, For all the blessings of the light! Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, Beneath Thine own almighty wings. The wings of the Great Eagle of Heaven are sufficient to enfold us in perfect security throughout the darks watches of the night. Were it not for the darkness of the night, we would far less appreciate the beauty and light of the glorious sun rise. He is One who will never leave or forsake us regardless the prowlers of the night or the scavengers of the day.
Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son, The ill that I this day have done, That with the world, myself, and Thee, I, ere I sleep, at peace may be. Those who are at peace with God are at peace with all else including the world at large. Sound sleep derives from a sound conscience. This may be assured by heartfelt confessions of our sins – both of commission and omission – each day at the hour of sleep. Before closing our eyes in sleep, we surrender again our souls to God and its protection, and leave the battlefield of the world to His power and grace.
Teach me to live, that I may dread The grave as little as my bed. Teach me to die, that so I may Rise glorious at the judgment day. I dearly love this stanza. I can assure you beyond any thread of doubt that such a little dread is possible for the devoted Christian. Just as the excitement of a celebration may cause a small dread of retiring to bed, so may the joys of this life make a small dread of leaving the stage – but we are pleased to surrender our last breath to Him who gave it in the beginning. Dying in the joy of Christ is dying in exactly the same spirit as we shall arise in Him at the last trump.(ad Meliora)
O may my soul on Thee repose, And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close, Sleep that may me more vigorous make To serve my God when I awake. The simplicity of language used by Ken is intended to reach the depths of the youthful heart, but not theirs alone – it is intended for us as well. The Christian awakes daily as a newborn babe since today is the first day of an awakening eternity with God. Exhausted as we may be at the close of day, we rest in sleep to renew our strength for the future day’s enterprise. But this is true of the death of a Christian as well. Well-worn with service and well-nourished in love, the elder saint finds every feather a burden to lift; but, now comes the rest of the long sleep of death when he retires on his bead of earth, but slumbers with Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham – his Paradise!
When in the night I sleepless lie, My soul with heavenly thoughts supply; Let no ill dreams disturb my rest, No powers of darkness me molest. When sleep is delayed, count your lambs of blessing of the day. Think on the resources of love and joy that God has granted in your life. We remember every smile, but mercy has erased the frowns of time. The bed is a place of slumber; therefore, we are helpless to defend against the devious enemy lurking in the shadows. But God is our comfort and protection especially during the hours of sleep. His angels stand post as our vedettes of protection from harm.
O when shall I, in endless day, For ever chase dark sleep away, And hymns divine with angels sing,
All praise to thee, eternal King? There comes a day of endless light when sleep is no longer needed to sustain a perfected body. But will you grow weary of being filled with joy? I doubt that strongly. The moments in my life that have garnered for me the greatest joy and satisfaction is during the singing of a majestic hymn. Like the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel, our spirits are lifted far beyond our troubled clouds of despair, high above the worldly dark dews and damps of painful reminiscence, all the way to the very Foyer of the Gates of Splendor. Now, place yourself beyond the shadows of this life to the profound beauty of that which follows – there we will be heralded by the wondrous voices of the angel chorus. We will be there where no evil lurks, no doubts or fear arise, all around is lovely and loving. Can joy mount a higher pinnacle?
THE DOXOLOGY; “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.I have previously made a full explanation of my understanding of the beauty of the Doxology, but there is a certain chamber of every heart that can ad meaning and majesty to its expression. We sometimes forget that every creature of God fulfills its Maker’s purpose more admirably and dutifully than does the crowning achievement of God’s Creation – Man:
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” Psalms 150:6 & “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Revelations 5:13). This verse, incidentally, has application to our dearly beloved pets as well as the wild beasts of the field and the creatures of the Deep. Note that these will have a voice to speak. Have you the voice to praise God while time permits?