Words by Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

The Hymn

  1. Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
    Christ, the true, the only Light,
    Sun of Righteousness, arise,
    Triumph o’er the shades of night;
    Dayspring from on high, be near;
    Day-star, in my heart appear.
  2. Dark and cheerless is the morn
    Unaccompanied by Thee;
    Joyless is the day’s return
    Till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
    Till they inward light impart,
    Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
  3. Visit then this soul of mine,
    Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
    Fill me, Radiancy divine,
    Scatter all my unbelief;
    More and more Thyself display,
    Shining to the perfect day.

(Hymn words accessed at Hymn Books .com)

Scriptural Connection

Since Wesley is pointing worshipers to contemplate the splendor of the Second Coming of Christ, one of the best connections to make with this hymn can be found in the final chapter of the Bible—Revelation 22. Particularly, I would focus on verses toward the latter part of the chapter (vv. 6-17). Here we see the announcement of the Second Coming, accompanied closely by the cry of the Church—“Come” and “Come quickly.” This passage is at the heart of this worship which focuses on the Christ.

What does it mean?

At this point in our hymnal we begin seeing a move from hymns that praise God the Father/Creator, to those which exalt the Son our Savior. Here is a prime example of such a hymn; and again it flows from the pen of the great hymn-writer Charles Wesley. This particular hymn brings to mind either the Ascension or the Second Coming. While the text of the hymn leads one to focus on the latter, the picture of the disciples standing awestruck at the moment when Christ was received into Heaven flashes to mind (see Acts 1:9-11).

There are a few terms that might visit the worshiper with difficulty in a modern day (the hymn is some 200 years old after all). Many will be names used to describe Jesus. He is named the “Sun of Righteousness,” “Dayspring,” and “Daystar” all in the first verse. Each of these descriptive titles remind us of Revelation descriptors that teach us that there is no need for sun, moon, or stars when the Son is present, for He is the eternal Light of Heavenly places. In the second stanza, the poet calls on the “Radiancy Divine” to fill him. This again points us to the “Radiant One,” who is Jesus Christ.

Another perhaps difficult portion of the hymn is the rather dismal approach in the second verse. Pointing out all of the shortcomings of the worshiper would seem counterproductive when one is trying to lift spirits up to the heavenlies, but this is Wesley’s point from the beginning. Our dire need to encounter the glory of Christ is off-set by Him. His splendor stands in drastic contrast to our sad existence. What better reason than our pitiful joylessness to allow the magnificence of Christ to enter in?

The final stanza of this little song is simply a prayer to request that Christ’s spectacular presence be the one influencing factor in the life of the Christian. Let Jesus be more evident in the life of the singer with each passing day until finally, in that day of His Second Coming, they are together forever.

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