O DAY OF REST AND GLADNESS
Christopher Wordsworth, 1807–1885
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest … (Hebrews 4:9, 10, 11)
Christopher Wordsworth, a nephew of the renowned English poet, William Wordsworth, reminds us in this hymn that since God rested after His acts of creation, we who are made in His image also need a day of rest and spiritual renewal. We need the encouragement and fellowship of other believers to keep our lives aglow for God. The way we use the Lord’s Day reflects our true devotion to God. Very early in the Christian era, the first day of the week replaced the Jewish Sabbath as the day of worship because it was on Sunday that the resurrection took place. Although we do not observe it according to the many set rules such as the Jews had for their Sabbath, Sunday should always be a special day of refreshment and of giving honor and worship to our God.
Christopher Wordsworth was an Anglican bishop, a noted scholar, and a distinguished writer. He composed 127 hymn texts that were intended to teach the truths of Scripture and encourage worship. “O Day of Rest and Gladness,” his only hymn widely used today, focuses on the doctrine of the Trinity. In the second stanza, the triune Godhead is compared to three important events or a “triple light” that occurred on the first day of the week: The creation of light (Genesis 1:1), the resurrection of Christ, and the advent of the Holy Spirit. In the final stanza, Wordsworth addresses each member of the Godhead by name, as the church raises its perpetual voice to “Thee, blest Three in One.”
O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light, O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright: On thee, the high and lowly, thru ages joined in tune, sing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” to the great God Triune.
On thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth; on thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth; on thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heav’n; and thus on thee, most glorious, a triple light was giv’n.
New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest, we reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blest. To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son; the Church her voice upraises to Thee, blest Three in One.
For Today: Genesis 1:3–5; Psalm 118:24; Isaiah 58:13, 14; Revelation 14:13
Do you anticipate with joy the Lord’s Day, when you can worship God in your local church? How can Sunday become a more meaningful time of renewal and refreshment for you and your family? Reflect on this hymn as you go—