HYMN 253 Awake My Soul, And with the Sun
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Norwegian: Nå stiger sol av hav igjen
Text: Thomas Ken (1637-1711) Tune: François-Hippolyte Barthélemon (1741-1808)
1. Awake, my soul, and with the sun Thy daily stage of duty run; Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise To pay thy morning sacrifice. 2. Redeem thy mis-spent time that's past, And live this day as if thy last; Improve thy talent with due care; For the great day thyself prepare. 3. Let all thy converse be sincere, Thy conscience as the noon-day clear; Think how all-seeing God thy ways And all thy secret thoughts surveys. 4. Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart, And with the angels bear thy part, Who all night long unwearied sing, High praise to the eternal King. 5. Glory to thee, who safe hast kept And hast refreshed me whilst I slept; Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake, I may of endless light partake. 6. Lord, I my vows to thee renew; Disperse my sins as morning dew; Guard my first springs of thought and will, And with thyself my spirit fill. 7. Direct, control, suggest, this day, All I design or do or say; That all my powers, with all their might, In thy sole glory may unite. 8. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow, Praise him, all creatures here below, Praise him above, angelic host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
MEDITATION This hymn was intended for the school boys at Winchester College where Bishop Thomas Ken served. It appeared in a booklet of hymns Ken wrote which included Morning and Evening prayers. There were hymns for three times of the day: morning, evening and midnight, through the week. They corresponded to the three hours that Martin Luther chose to take from the monastic hours—Matins, Vespers, and Compline—for family devotions. It concludes with the doxology for which Ken is known around the world.
The doxology brings to mind an experience our family had once after the evening meal when we always had devotions. My father usually read from a devotional book, concluding with prayer. Once we had a guest, probably the prime exhibit in my catalogue of characters, an old lay evangelist with a booming voice. He was famous for taking over services, standing up and overpowering the preacher, or the event, and begin praying or preaching. My father was intent on preventing such a thing from happening after the meal. We had to get to Bible study. After reading a selection from Charles Spurgeon's devotional, I think it was, he prayed, sang the doxology, one of our guest’s favorite songs, and leaped up, but not fast enough.
Our guest began, "Dear heavenly Father…." We sat down. The prayer went on and on...and on. My little brother crawled under the table and left the house to take his tricycle for a spin around the block. We heard the squeaky wheel as he left. After our guest had begun his prayer in which he rejoiced that we could go straight to the Lord in prayer, and not have to use borrowed oil or old ideas like my father had in reading a written prayer—the squeaking wheels made their way past the house again. And again.
I peeked at my mom's closed eyes and saw her suppressing her giggles. My father steadfastly refused to look up or he would have lost it as well. When, after some 45 minutes, our visitor concluded, once again with the doxology, he thanked God that “even if some said he was nuts, thank God, he was screwed to the biggest bolt in this here universe, Jesus Christ.” Then we were done, and rushed off to Bible study making it just in time. He came along and continued to provide us merriments we would never forget.
We told these stories over and over again. He could be a real pain and I am sure gained probably more opponents than followers, but some had come to faith through his witness and loved him. We pitied those in his railroad car whom he had preached to nearly the whole way out west, he said. That would be two and a half days! Thinking of his stentorian voice filling the car with his preaching to irritated passengers trying to sleep sent us off into further gales of laughter.
Still there was something grand about his language. The Renaissance poets would call his imagery of the nuts and bolts a conceit—an elaborate, fanciful metaphor, of a strained or far-fetched nature.
I learned something about language from him—vivid conceits and imagery are memorable and fascinating. And once again, we saw how God could use even the oddest among us to do some good, despite their annoying ways. So when I hear the doxology, my mind often returns to that evening in our kitchen with him preaching/praying while we solemnly tried not to giggle, hearing squeaking tricycle wheels outside the house going round and round. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
HYMN INFO This hymn appeared first in 1674 in Bishop Ken’s Manual of Prayers for Winchester Scholars. In it he advised the students that “it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning and of his truth in the night season.” It goes together with his more famous hymn “All Praise to thee, my God this night.” It was later appended to the Tate and Brady psalter. (For much more on Bishop Ken see HYMN 99)
The writer of the tune, Barthélemon was a French musician who immigrated to England where he played the violin, taught music and composed operas, ballet and theater music along with several symphonies. An important musical talent at the time in England he came to be a good friend of Joseph Haydn who was in London for some time during the 1790s. He is said to have written this tune for the chaplain of the Female Orphan Asylum in London. It was printed in 1785 in a small collection of hymns published by the Asylum for its residents. With its simple melody it is especially effective with children, as it was intended to be.
LINKS Jubilate Singers https://youtu.be/5Jc8XIU8bis
Christian Hymnal/organ accompaniment https://youtu.be/HWpgRfRlHLw
Norwich Cathedral Choir https://youtu.be/zKt3lg2AZ0U
Bagpipe version/rather nice
Timothy Shaw on piano
The NCrew/Song with guitar https://youtu.be/xPzhHmUVjM4