Thursday, September 25, 2008

But Naming Only Thee

I've talked about evening hymns before (since my church does evening worship regularly) but not about morning hymns. They're probably more useful because nearly every church has some kind of morning worship. Usually, (in my experience) a hymn about the morning will be the opening one in the service. There are quite a few of them out there; I'm not sure that anyone is really looking for more, but this is one that I've liked for a long time.

Bring, O morn, thy music! Night, thy starlit silence!
Oceans, laugh the rapture to the storm winds coursing free!
Suns and planets chorus, thou art our Creator,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be!

Life and death, thy creatures, praise thee, mighty Giver!
Praise and prayer are rising in thy beast and bird and tree:
Lo! they praise and vanish, vanish at thy bidding,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be!

Light us! lead us! love us! cry thy myriad nations,
Pleading in the thousand tongues, but naming only thee,
Weaving ever out thy holy, happy purpose,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be!

Life nor death can part us, O thou Love eternal,
Shepherd of the wandering star and souls that wayward flee!
Homeward draws the spirit to thy Spirit yearning,
Who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be!

William Channing Gannett, 1893; alt.
Tune: NICAEA (
John Bacchus Dykes, 1861

William Channing Gannett was a nineteenth-century Unitarian minister who served in many different places, including Rochester, NY, where Susan B. Anthony was one of his congregants. Together they helped raise money to send women to the University of Rochester, only a small part of Gannett's work in support of women's rights. Before his ordination he had spent four years helping freed African-American slaves in South Carolina.

The prolific Victorian composer John Bacchus Dykes wrote this very familiar tune for the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern, usually sung to an equally well-known text.

No comments: