When I started composing choral music I spent time going through old hymnals (I have a lot of them) and picking hymns that I didn’t know, were in public domain, and I liked the words. That seemed like a good place to start. One hymn I discovered was This is the Light of Day by John Ellerton. I really liked that it was a description of the Sabbath. He included light, rest, peace, prayer, and first of days as the characteristics of Sabbath.
John Ellerton was born in London in 1826. He graduated from Trinity College at Cambridge in 1849 (B.A.) and 1854 (M.A.) and was ordained in the Church of England in 1851. Ellerton served in many capacities including Curate of Easebourne Sussex, Lecturer of St. Peters, Brighton, and Vicar of Crewe, Roding. He also worked as a hymnologist and wrote or translated about 80 hymns.
My favorite line is in verse one. O Dayspring, rise upon our night and chase the gloom away. I had to look up the word dayspring. The dictionary indicates that it is an archaic word for dawn. One source suggested that sunrise/dawn is a symbol of God’s intervention into our world. I think that fits well with this text. The other image that popped into my mind was a lighthouse. People often compare Jesus to a lighthouse that guides us to safety. The metaphor of night and gloom seems representational of all the chaos in our world that will be dispelled with the return of Jesus to our lives.
Interested in seeing the full hymn (my version)? Click HERE.