Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Lullaby

The picture at the top of the page might have been my mom's favorite photograph ever. It shows my big brother, Dave, and me praying before bed when we were still living in Brooklyn. My folks were big on ritual and prayer fit right into our routine. We always prayed as a family; before meals, when we were leaving on a trip, family devotionals, etc. We often sang prayers as well, hymns like Father, We Thank Thee For The Night and Enter Into His Gates. Prayers and hymns go together.

Sabine Baring-Gould was an Englishman who lived 1834 to 1924. A glance at his life on Wikipedia left me incredulous that one person could accomplish so much, even if he did live until age ninety. This isn't about his life but it is noteworthy that Christians remember Baring-Gould for authoring one of the all-time great hymns, Onward Christian Soldiers. That's not my favorite of his compositions, though. Baring-Gound wrote the words to a song which is almost like a lullaby, based on Proverbs 3 and verse 24:
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

I love hearing children pray because they go all over the place and tend to stray from the typical line of reasoning in the prayers of adults and I think the meanderings of little ones comes through in this hymn. Here is what Sabine Baring-Gould wrote in 1868:

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

Now the darkness gathers,
Stars begin to peep,
Birds, and beasts and flowers
Soon will be asleep.

Jesus, give the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tenderest blessing
May mine eyelids close.

Grant to little children
Visions bright of Thee;
Guard the sailors tossing
On the deep, blue sea.

Comfort those who suffer,
Watching late in pain;
Those who plan some evil
From their sin restrain.

Through the long night watches
May Thine angels spread
Their white wings above me,
Watching round my bed.

When the morning wakens,
Then may I arise
Pure, and fresh, and sinless
In Thy holy eyes.

What I like best is how the hymn ends so optimistically for the new day, with a clean soul in the Father's eyes. On this first day of 2015, I need that big jolt of faith and confidence in the promises God has made to us. Maybe you do, too. Happy New Year!

Applicable quote of the day:
The lullaby is the spell whereby the mother attempts to transform herself back from an ogre to a saint.

To hear a beautiful rendition of this timeless hymn of prayer as sung by the choir of Hastings (Nebraska) College, please copy and paste the link below!

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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