Let it please Thee to bless the house of Thy servant.@2 Samuel 7:29

Stanzas 1-4, James Edmeston, Sacred Lyrics, 1820; stanzas 5-6, Edward H. Bickersteth, 1876.

Evening Prayer (Stebbins), George C. Stebbins, 1878 ( pdf nwc).

It rarely falls to the lot of any hymn to be sung under such trying circumstances as was this, during the Boxer outbreak in China, by a company of beleaguered missionaries who had gathered together one night in great fear lest they should have to suffer the fate of so many who were giving up their lives rather than deny their Lord. The following account of the singing is furnished by Miss Helen Knox Strain, one of the missionaries present that night.

“The Woman’s Union Missionary Society has a magnificent work just outside of the city of Shanghai. No harm had come to us up to this time, but serious threats and unpleasant rumors were rife; we dared not so much as put our heads out at night, though forty little soldier-men played at keeping us safe. Our missionaries have two centers at that place, and the they meet often for prayer and consultation. At this particular time the rumors were so frightful, and the threats to burn our homes that very night so distressing, that we had a memorable meeting. Separated from home and friends, facing death in a far-off land, and full of tenderest feeling, we lifted our hearts in song…

“Out of the storm each soul, renewing its strength, mounted up with wings as eagles and found peace in the secret of His presence.

Our Saviour breathed, in very deed, an evening blessing upon us, the fragrance of which remains even unto this day. The last verse of the hymn, Should swift death this night o’ertake us, was omitted. It seemed too probable it might. We wanted only to think of the safe-keeping, and such, thank God, it proved to be.

Sankey, pp. 139-41

portrait
George C. Stebbins (1846-1945)

Savior, breathe an evening blessing
Ere repose our spirits seal;
Sin and want we come confessing:
Thou canst save, and Thou canst heal.

Though destruction walk around us,
Though the arrow past us fly,
Angel guards from Thee surround us;
We are safe if Thou art nigh.

Though the night be dark and dreary,
Darkness cannot hide from Thee;
Thou art He who, never weary,
Watchest where Thy people be.

Should swift death this night o’ertake us,
And our couch become our tomb,
May the morn in heaven awake us,
Clad in light and deathless bloom.

Father, to thy holy keeping
Humbly we ourselves resign;
Savior, who hast slept our sleeping,
Make our slumbers pure as thine

Blessèd Spirit, brooding o’er us,
Chase the darkness of our night,
Till the perfect day before us
Breaks in everlasting light.