The hymn for this week definitely gets the prize for the best title. What a beautiful image – I’m sure we can all visualize a spectacular sunrise filling the sky with golden beauty. It is my great fortune to be sitting in a sun-filled room as I write this, with the fresh spring air coming through windows that have finally been opened after a long winter.

The words for the hymn originate in a German text from the mid 1700s, and were translated into English in 1854. It was set to this tune in 1868 by Joseph Barnby, and was sung for the first time it St. Paul’s Cathedral in London that year. If you’ve been in that space, one can easily imagine the combined beauty of the song with the architecture – it must have been a lovely experience!

This is quite simply a song of praise and gratitude. An exquisite collection of statements expressing that in beauty, in pain, in sadness, in darkness and in light, praise is given. There were, reportedly, 28 verses in the original hymn. I suppose that kind of length makes sense if we’re trying to imagine every scenario life offers; every state of being that we can rise up from and fill our minds and hearts with praise.

When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer,
On him I cast my care.
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind?
A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss?
My comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day
When from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
In heaven’s eternal bliss
The loveliest strain is this:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

I hadn’t heard this one in a while, but am so glad it was suggested to me. I can understand how it could be a favourite. It has beautiful words and a beautiful tune. It has a beautiful message. Life has much in it, good and bad, but beauty prevails. It might be the beauty of the Divine or the beauty of faith. Maybe for you it’s the beauty found in nature, or poetry, art, literature, or music. We all have the opportunity to find something that anchors us. Something we can return to despite our earthly circumstances. Something that becomes our eternal song, our song of praise. Something that allows us to see the possibility of gilded skies.

Be this, while life is mine,
My canticle divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this the eternal song,
Through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!