As I sat down this evening to prepare for teaching in the morning, my eyes came across my copy of The Church Hymnary, a little hymnal I picked up in Scotland. I had not looked at it recently, so I picked it up, and as I glanced through it I came upon this hymn in the section on evening hymns. I was struck by the view of the church presented here. It was once said of the British Empire that the sun never set on it, meaning that since it spanned the globe it was always day somewhere in the Empire. That is no longer true, but it is certainly true of the Church. I think this is a fitting hymn especially for the weekend as we gather together. It is encouraging to think that the body of Christ worldwide is gathering. We are not alone. As we gather we express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world- the persecuted, the impoverished, the new believer in a country where his new faith makes his life forfeit. In various languages, in widely diverse meeting places, in different circumstances praise will be ascending to the One True, Triune God.
“‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My Name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My Name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My Name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended;
The darkness falls at they behest;
To thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.
As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.
The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ‘neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.
So be it, Lord! Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away;
Thy kingdom stands and grows for ever,
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.
John Ellerton (1826-1893)