top of page

HYMN 232 The Eastern Sky is Growing Light

Danish: I østen stiger solen opp

Norwegian: I østen stiger solen opp

Swedish: I öster stiger solen opp

Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1789-1862) Christopher Ernst Frederik Weyse (1774-1842)

1. The eastern sky is growing light,

The golden sun is up.

We see it rise against the night

From ev'ry mountain top.

2. It rises from that lovely shore,

We know as Paradise.

It brings us light and life and more

To light each persons' eyes.

3. It greets us with its lovely smile

From Eden's dawning glow

Where one tree's fruit grew undefiled,

The pow'r of life o'erflowed

4. It greets us from life’s source and home

From where God’s light came down

Into the star of Bethlehem

Which eastern sages found.

5. And as God's Sun comes from the east

And gives its light to earth

A glimpse, the light of Paradise

God's image came to birth.

6. And all the stars are rising far

When th'eastern sun goes down

They seem to be like all the stars

That shone on Bethl'hem's town.

7. God sends the sun from heav'n with love,

So ev'ry one may see

A ray of paradise above,

How lovely that will be!

8. Oh, sun of suns from Bethlehem

We give you thanks and praise

For every gleam from light’s great home

And from your paradise.

Tr. Gracia Grindal

Dawn, November 3, 2020, over Seljord from the gaard where my grandfather was born


Ingemann wrote this hymn to be sung in school on Wednesday mornings. When we hear these morning and evening songs we can see how important the notion of singing a hymn at the beginning and ending of the day was. They have become some of the treasures of the hymnal, but because we do not sing hymns in the schools, or not much in the home, they have declined in significance.

As a teacher at the Sorø Academy, Ingemann had the chance to see how these hymns worked with students. When the church was part of the state in Europe, the schools quite naturally had a time of devotions at the beginning and end of the day. As that began to decline the hymns declined as well.

Family Life by Adolph Tidemand

Britt G. Hallqvist came to be interested in writing hymns partly because she was fascinated by the language of an old Lutheran hymn they sang frequently for morning devotions in her Swedish school.

The key to this hymn is the East—that is where the light comes from. All light comes from the “home” of light—God’s Paradise. Light marks the great events in history that revealed the light. Creation, when God spoke and there was light, in Eden where light shone from the tree in the middle of the garden, from the light of the dawn that reveals paradise, to the light in the star of Bethlehem, which is mentioned a couple of times in the hymn. Those are all places where we as created beings can get a sense for the great light which is the source of all light. As in all revelation from God, we as human beings can only get brief glimpses of the God who is light.

Those of us who have grown up in northern climes are known for our love and hunger for the light. In fact, the entire calendar of our northern Christian festivities is built around where the sun is—Christmas, when the sun is weakest brings us the light of Christ shown first to us in the star of Bethlehem that brought sages from the east to the crib of the Savior, the Light of the World. St. John’s Eve, when the sun is highest in the heavens, points to the coming one whom John was sent to announce. We long for the light in the spring as the equinox approaches and grieve its disappearance when the days begin to darken.

These are parables for the way we long for the light of Christ, the light of the World. Without the sun there would be no life on earth; without the light of Christ, we would have no hope. That hope comes to us whether it is dark or light in nature, or in our own psyches. Times are tough right now in the US given the uncertainty about the election and COVID-19. But Scripture tells us, and we know it to be true, the light shines in the darkness and nothing can put it out.


Bernhard Severin Ingemann

Because the hymn was intended for worship on Wednesday, Wodin’s Day, Ingemann probably meant to show that Christ was the new light. It was published first in 1837 in a collection called Morning Songs for Children. From there it became part of the Danish and Norwegian treasury of hymns for the morning. It has three well known melodies. The most common tune is by C. E. F. Weyse, who wrote "O Day Full of Grace." The one by Niels Gade, who used it as a choral anthem as part of a Cantata Elverskud (1854), is popular for choirs. The Swedes translated it later and use a tune by Oskar Lindberg that is well loved.


Weyse’s tune/Gallanthus Nivalis

Matthias Hedegaard, Else Torp, Marie Rørbeck, piano

Iver Kleive, Povl Dissing, Knut Reiersrud

Simon Pedersen/nice church bells at the beginning

Lene Siel

Gade's tune: in Elverskud Aarhus' concert choir and orchestra

Swedish melody by Oskar Lindberg Sven-Olof Axelsson

88 views0 comments


bottom of page