Scripture Verse

The Lord God is a sun and shield. Psalm 84:11


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).

Alternate Tunes:

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

Background of the Hymn

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.