Words by John Keble (1792-1866)

(Also included in the Broadman Hymnal, 1940 ed., Broadman Press, Nashville – #177; Voice of Praise, 1947, Broadman Press, Nashville – #177; Inspiring Hymns, 1968, Zondervan, Grand Rapids – #19; The Celebration Hymnal, 1997, Word/Integrity, Waco – #625; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, 1986, Word, Waco – #412; Favorite Hymns of Praise, 1967, Tabernacle Publishing, Chicago – #422.)

The Hymn

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal.

Scriptural Connection

Two or the hymnal editors (as well as the editors at CyberHymnal) selected Psalm 84 as the scriptural background for this hymn. Specifically mentioned is verse 11 which starts with the line “The Lord God is a Sun and Shield . . .” In keeping with the praise aspect and the psalmly connection to our current section of hymns I would be glad to take this connection.

On the other hand, I see a closer relationship between the poem used for lyrics and the declaration in Revelation 22:5 “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” This verse allows for the exchange of the Sun for the Savior as the light that illumines and gives comfort.

What does it mean?

As suggested, this hymn is one that is designed to bring comfort, warmth, and light to the worshiper. The call is to the Savior (a reason to move from the Psalms to the Revelation in our scripture of choice), and the request is for continual abiding.

Theologically, this hymn calls for all people to trust in the Christ indicating that without Him all hope is lost. The majority of the hymnals I consulted choose stanzas 1, 2, 3, and 6 as text inclusions with a variation on verse 6: “Be near to bless us when we wake . . .” Even so, the hymn directs people first to believe in Christ and rest in Him, and also requests that the Savior abide or remain with the worshiper.

This hymn, while not as avidly used in circles where I worship, has not lost its power of comfort of those who rest in the light provided by the Sun, the Savior. May your life today be filled with that same comforting light.

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.