Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

September 23

John Keble, 1792–1866
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You. (Psalm 84:11, 12)
Jesus taught that we can learn much from the lilies of the field. How do they grow? By struggling and seeking to display their beauty? No, they simply open themselves to the existing sun, and in their sun-centeredness, they grow and become objects of beauty for all to enjoy. Indeed the sun is one of the most important factors in nature’s growth.
We too need sun for our souls—the warmth of God’s love and presence in our lives. We were created for this in order to be complete persons. It was St. Augustine who realized this truth centuries ago: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”
John Keble, a professor of poetry at Oxford University for 10 years and later an Anglican minister of the humble parish church in the village of Hursley, wrote this poem in 1820. Seven years later he published a collection of poems titled The Christian Year with all of the poems following the church calendar year. “Sun of My Soul” was one of the poems from that collection. The book was extremely successful, going through 109 editions before John Keble’s death in 1866.
The poem was originally named “Evening” and was based on the account in Luke 24:29, where Christ went in to dine with the two Emmaus disciples following His resurrection.
This prayer for the constant and unobscured sense of Christ’s unwavering presence and blessing, whether in life or death, and finally the full enjoyment of God’s love in “heav’n above,” is still a worthy goal for each believer.
Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear, it is not night if Thou be near; O may no earth-born cloud arise to hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes!
When the soft dews of kindly sleep my weary eyelids gently steep, be my last thought; how sweet to rest forever on my Savior’s breast!
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.
Be near to bless me when I wake, ere thru the world my way I take; abide with me till in Thy love I lose myself in heav’n above.

    For Today: Psalm 4:6–8; Luke 1:77–79; 24:29; 2 Corinthians 4:4

Pray with John Keble that “no earth-born cloud” will obscure a sense of Christ’s presence and blessing in your life. Carry this musical message to help—

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