Sunday, February 1, 2009

Undimming and Unsetting

We are still in the season of Epiphany -- a long one this year because Lent does not start until late February. One of Epiphany's ongoing themes is light, deriving from the star over Bethlehem that led the Eastern sages to the manger, light that reveals Jesus to those who have not yet known him. Many hymns about light are often used in the later weeks of the season so we aren't singing about the three kings all the way to Ash Wednesday.

In John 8:12 Jesus makes a famous proclamation: "I am the Light of the world," a phrase that has given inspiration for many creations of prose, poetry, and music (naturally including hymns).

Light of the world!
Forever, ever shining,
There is no change in thee;
True Light of life,
All joy and health enshrining,
Thou canst not fade nor flee.

Thou hast aris'n,
But thou descendeth never;
Today shines as the past;
All that thou wast
Thou art and shalt be ever,
Brightness from first to last.

Night visits not
Thy sky, nor storm, nor sadness;
Day fills up all its blue --
Unfailing beauty,
And unfaltering gladness,
And love forever new.

Light of the world!
Undimming and unsetting,
O shine each mist away;
Banish the fear,
The falsehood, and the fretting;
Be our unchanging Day.

Horatius Bonar, 1861
Tune: WILTON (
Arthur Henry Mann, 19th c. (?)

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