Scripture Verse

The Lord God is a sun and shield.@Psalm 84:11
portrait
John Keble
(1792–1866)

Words: John Ke­ble, 1820. First pub­lished in The Chris­tian Year, 1827. The words come from a po­em that starts ’Tis gone, that bright and orb­èd glaze.

Music: Hurs­ley Ka­thol­isch­es Ge­sang­buch (Vi­en­na: 1774). Adapt­ed from the Me­tric­al Psal­ter, 1855 (🔊 pdf nwc).

His­tor­ic­al Note: Oak­e­ley com­posed Abends spe­ci­fical­ly for these words. Des­pite Oak­e­ley’s dis­taste for Hursley, we like it.

I was, ma­ny years ago, im­pelled to set Ke­ble’s words to mu­sic for Hen­ry Baker, in con­se­quence of the in­ad­e­qua­cy if not vul­gar­i­ty of the tune which had got into gen­er­al use. I re­fer to Hurs­ley, which, how­ev­er, is now less oft­en sung than for­mer­ly.

Hursley, strange to say, had been in use in Ge­rma­ny—where, as a rule, cho­rales (An­gl­icè hymn tunes) are so dig­nified and ad­mir­a­ble—since cir­ci­ter 1792, and is at­trib­ut­ed to Paul Ri­tter.

One of my rea­sons for dis­lik­ing it so much is the re­sem­blance it bears to a drink­ing song, Se vu­ol bal­la­re, in Noz­ze di Fi­ga­ro. As Mo­zart pro­duced that op­e­ra in 1786, he is re­spon­si­ble for the op­en­ing strain, which suits his Bac­cha­nal­i­an words ve­ry well. But to hear Sun of my soul, Thou Sav­iour dear, sung to a live­ly tune, un­suit­a­ble to sac­red words, had the ef­fect of driv­ing me out of church.

Herbert Oakeley

Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.

When the soft dews of kindly sleep
My wearied eyelids gently steep,
Be my last thought, how sweet to rest
Forever on my Savior’s breast.

Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without Thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.

If some poor wandering child of Thine
Has spurned today the voice divine,
Now, Lord, the gracious work begin;
Let him no more lie down in sin.

Watch by the sick, enrich the poor
With blessings from Thy boundless store;
Be every mourner’s sleep tonight,
Like infants’ slumbers, pure and right.

Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take,
Till in the ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in Heaven above.