Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear

1
Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
Oh, 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
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 Thee above.
8
Colin Baldy

Maldon, Essex, United Kingdom

Steve Miller: Gloucestershire is in England, not Scotland. At least, it was the last time I looked. And Fairford is not a "tiny village" and never was. It's always been a large village, verging on small market town. In Keble's time it was the major centre of population for many miles around. Nowadays is enormous, having been host to an airforce base for many years. And Keble College was founded in 1870, not 1869. This year has been its 150th anniversary. Sadly, the celebrations have been curtailed somewhat by Covid-19.


Ana Lara

United States

John Keble, the son of an Anglican country preacher, was born at Fairford, Gloucester, England on April 25, 1792. He was a poetry professor at Oxford University for ten years where he also had been educated. From 1835 until his death in 1866, he served the humble parish church in the village of Hursley, England, with a population of 1, 500 people.

In 1827 Keble published a volume of poems entitled “The Christian Year, ” with all of the poems following the church calendar year. One of the poems from the collection was “Sun of My Soul. ” It was never meant to be used as a hymn. Keble’s intention was that his book of poetry be used as a devotional supplement to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Keble was so modest, he had his book of poems published anonymously. The book became so successful that it went through 109 editions before 1866, the year he died. He used the proceeds from the book to maintain the ministry of his small church at Hursley.

In 1833 Keble preached at Oxford his famous sermon on “ National Apostasy” which is credited with the beginning of the Oxford Movement in the nineteenth century. Its leaders wanted to bring about a spiritual awakening in the Church of England without the use of the more aggressive practices common in the evangelical leaders of his time, the Wesleys and Whitfield followers . The Oxford leaders believed in increasing the ritualistic and liturgical practices of the church in order to deepen a spiritual awakening. Some leaders like John Henry Newman and Edward Caswall eventually left the Anglican Church and became leaders of the Catholic Church. Keble however remained a humble yet high church Anglican minister until his death.

In 1869 Keble College was founded in Oxford University as a tribute to him. He wrote a total of 765 hymns as well as a companion book of tunes which he composed or collected to be used with his texts. He became a respected preacher and Bible scholar.

The original tune for this hymn called “Hursley, ” is adapted from a melody which first appeared in the hymnal “Katholisches Gesangbuch, ” Vienna, Austria, about 1774. This tune was Keble’s personal choice for his text when it appeared in the “Metrical Psalter” in 1855. The tune was named in honor of the little church which Keble had faithfully served for so many years.


Jacqueline

Dallas, TX, United States

Lord, You are the Sun of my soul!


Maureen Neven

Tujunga, CA, United States

Thanks to Steve Miller for his knowledge of John Keble's life and ministry. I just became acquainted with Keble's hymn, Sun of My Soul, and am encouraged to sing this as a prayer on a regular basis. The story behind the hymn, and the extra mostly unknown verses, truly add to the hymn's beauty and grace.


Steve Miller

Detroit, Michigan, United States

John Keble was born in the tiny village of Fairford, Gloucestershire, Scotland. Keble was the son of a pious and humble country vicar and a Godly mother. His father contributed much to his education before he won a scholarship to Oxford at the age of 15. Within 3 years of his entry at Oxford, John Keble had won 2 first prizes, one for Latin and the other for his "Essay" in English. With the exception of Sir Robert Peel, he was the only man ever to have done so up to that time.

Keble remained at Oxford as a professor until the death of his mother, when he went to be his father's curate at Coln St. Aldwyn, near Fairford, where he was born. It was here in peaceful surroundings of gentle rolling hills of green that Keble was inspired to write much of his best poetry.

As he took his walks in the early morning or evening, his mind seemed to be washed of all the cares of the world, and his soul was alone with his God and his Savior. In the course of time the young curate found that he had a poem for every day of the year, and his 'Christian Year' was the result. The 'Christian Year' went through 8 editions during the author's lifetime, and it was at one time the most frequently read book of poems in the English language. The morning hymn "New every Morning", containing the oft quoted lines: "Help us this day, to live more nearly as we pray", are from a longer poem first published in the 'Christian Year'. The most popular of his hymns, "Sun of My Soul", was first published in the same volume. The hymn was written November 25, 1820, and originally it had 14 verses. On Keble's memorial in Westminster Abbey are the words: "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isa. 30:15). These words of scripture Keble inscribed on the title page of his 'Christian Year'.

Upon one occasion the poet, Tennyson, was entertaining a friend in his garden. His friend had asked him what he thought of Christ, and the poet was silent for a time; then leaning over a flower, he said, "What the sun is to that flower, Jesus Christ is to my soul. He is the Sun of my Soul." And so whether the expression was original with Keble or whether he borrowed it from Tennyson, it matters not. As we bow our hearts and sing the hymn, we seem strangely warmed by the Sun of Righteousness. - 'More Living Hymn Stories' by Wilbur Konkel

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Here are the rest of the 14 verses in Keble's original poem:

1 'Tis gone, that bright and orbèd blaze,

Fast fading from our wistful gaze;

Yon mantling cloud has hid from sight

The last faint pulse of quivering light.

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2 In darkness and in weariness

The traveler on his way must press;

No gleam to watch on tree or tower,

Whiling away the lonesome hour.

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3. hymnal.net #1

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4. When round thy wondrous works below

My searching, rapturous glance I throw,

Tracing out wisdom, power, and love,

In earth or sky, in stream or grove;

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5 Or by the light Thy words disclose

Watch Time's full river as it flows.

Scanning Thy gracious providence,

Where not too deep for mortal sense:

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6 When with dear friends sweet talk I hold

And all the flowers of life unfold,

Let not my heart within me burn,

Except in all I Thee discern.

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7-8 hymnal.net #2 & 3

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9 Thou Framer of the light and dark,

Steer through the tempest Thine own ark:

Amid the howling wintry sea

We are in port if we have Thee.

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10 The rulers of this Christian land,

'Twixt Thee and us ordained to stand,

Guide Thou their course, O Lord, aright;

Let all do all as in Thy sight.

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11 Oh, by Thine own sad burden, borne

So meekly up the hill of scorn,

Teach Thou Thy priests their daily cross

To bear as Thine nor count it loss!

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12-13 given by me below on Sep 25, 2013

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14 hymnal.net #4


William Jeng

Irvine, CA, United States

Lord Jesus, abide with me from morning til evening each day, for without You I cannot live. Remind me to eat and behold Your face every morning as the Bread of the Presence. This is my prayer Lord!


Carol

Clinton, MA, United States

What a beautiful hymn. This is my prayer today.


Steve Miller

Detroit, MI, United States

The prophet Malachi called the Messiah the Sun of Righteousness, who would rise with healing in His wings. So John Keble was using a familiar title for Jesus when he wrote this poem. Keble first published "Sun of my Soul" in a book called "The Christian Year", which included poems to be used by believers for worship throughout the church year. An extremely modest man, Keble published this book anonymously. He used the proceeds from the sale of his book to maintain the small village church near Oxford in which he served for more than 3 decades.

Throughout his ministry, Keble was known as an outstanding preacher and a careful Bible scholar. He wrote over 700 hymns. In 1869 Keble College was founded at Oxford University as a tribute to him. - Great Songs of Faith by Brown & Norton

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There are 2 additional touching stanzas which come before the last stanza above:

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.

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Watch by the sick, enrich the poor

with blessings from thy boundless store;

be every mourner's sleep tonight,

like infants' slumbers, pure and light.