When Morning Gilds the Skies

In Psalm 34:1, David proclaims, ” I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (NIV)  To praise God morning, noon and night, and by everyone, everywhere, is exactly what the author of When Morning Gilds the Skies had in mind.  The original German text of fourteen stanzas first appeared in print in 1828.  Although we do not know the author of the German text, we have Edward Caswall (1814-1878) to thank for the translation and skillful poetic setting of the words in a way that makes them ideal for a hymn.  In 1854, Caswall published six stanzas, and in 1858 he added eight more.  The text of five (sometimes four) verses that appears in most modern hymnals comes from various sections of Caswall’s translation.

Joseph Barnby (1838-1896) composed the tune LAUDES DOMINI specifically for Caswall’s text.  Tune and text were first published together in 1868.  The tune name, translated as “the praises of the Lord,” reinforces the theme of the text.  An interesting feature of the hymn-tune is the longer note values added to emphasize the concluding phrase, “May Jesus Christ be praised!

1 When morning gilds the sky,
our hearts awaking cry:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
in all our work and prayer
we ask his loving care:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

2 To God, the Word on high,
the hosts of angels cry:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals too up raise
their voices in hymns of praise:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

3 Let earth’s wide circle round
in joyful notes resound:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let air and sea and sky
from depth to height reply:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

4 Be this, when day is past,
of all our thoughts the last:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The night becomes as day
when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

5 Then let us join to sing
to Christ, our loving King:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this the eternal song
through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

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