A Hymn Devotion for 25 August 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. 18If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: 19But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. 20Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.” (Psalms 66:17-20; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
“Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (John 9:31)
The tender beauty of this hymn reflects the mother’s heart who composed it for her children. Mrs. Mary Lundie Duncan of Scotland composed this child’s hymn in December of 1839 shortly before taking ill with a chill at the end of December and passing on to her Lord on January 5, 1840. She wrote more hymns, but all were for the benefit of her blessed children. Do not be put off by the child-like appeal of this hymn since we are all as little children before God – or should be. It is suited for Evening Prayer. There are two tunes presented in the Hymnal – the first by John Stainer (1898) and the second by Charlotte A. Barnard (1868).
JESUS, TENDER SHEPHERD, HEAR ME
1 Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me,
Bless Thy little lamb tonight;
Through the darkness be Thou near me,
Watch my sleep till morning light.
2 All this day Thy hand has led me,
And I thank Thee for Thy care;
Thou hast clothed me, warmed and fed me,
Listen to my evening prayer.
3 Let my sins be all forgiven,
Bless the friends I love so well;
Take me, when I die, to heaven,
Happy there with Thee to dwell.
1 Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me, Bless Thy little lamb tonight; Through the darkness be Thou near me, Watch my sleep till morning light. There are nights of sunset to sun-up, and others of sunset to Son-Rise. The latter is that night to which the aged saint looks forward with comfort and security; yet, the heathen with great fear and panic. Our full trust is placed in the hands of God and under His watchful Eye during our earthly nights of sleep. It is no different when at the curtains fall on earth, we continue to place our souls in the Mighty Hand that will guide us over Jordan Banks and its turbid waters. The hours of darkness seem interminable to a child, or to any other whose dread of illness or want are untempered by the distraction of the day’s labor. Sorrow, like fever, usually mounts as the shadows grow; however, our long, dark nights are ended by the joyful appearance of the rainbow colors of the sunrise at dawn. “O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. 4Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:2-5)
2 All this day Thy hand has led me, And I thank Thee for Thy care; Thou hast clothed me, warmed and fed me, Listen to my evening prayer. The choice time of the saint is during the hours of light. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8) The Word of our Lord is our guide and compass on the Narrow Way: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Not only does His Word reveal every step we must take, but also points out the longer path ahead. The believer never lacks bread for the journey nor raiment for his comfort. The EVENING Prayer is just as important as the morning prayer. It is the same when saying grace before meals – should we not as well return thanks at the conclusion of the meal for the blessings God has extended? The Morning Prayer is most often a prayer of praise and adoration of the Lord and the coming day, while the Evening prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings of the day and protection during the hours of darkness.
3 Let my sins be all forgiven, Bless the friends I love so well; Take me, when I die, to heaven, Happy there with Thee to dwell. All sins of which we repent are forgiven, but how many of us remember every single sin we have committed? That is why in our Anglican Prayer Book, we repeat the General Confession which includes every sin of which we are heartily sorry – those of commission and those of omission. Our general prayers should not be so self-centered as to omit those we know and love. We pray for those and for our countrymen and nation as well. The Christian already has the assurance of being with the Lord at death; however, like a child, we need reassurance from time to time. This comes through prayer and study of God’s Word. It is the word which is our Bread of Heaven and which is the physical manifestation of our Lord for He is the WORD and the Bread of Heaven.
Below is a prayer of the famous writer of children’s classics, Robert Louis Stephenson, entitled Evening Prayer (Written at his Vila Vailima, Samoan Islands):
Lord, see our family gathered here.
We thank you for this place in which we live,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded to us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies
that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
–Robert Louis Stevenson