The Day You Gave Us, Lord, Has Ended
The day you gave us, Lord, has ended;
the darkness falls at your behest.
To you our morning hymns ascended;
your praise shall hallow now our rest.
We thank you that your church, unsleeping
while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world its watch is keeping,
and never rests by day or night.
As to each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.
The sun, here having set, is waking
your children under western skies,
and hour by hour, as day is breaking,
fresh hymns of thankful praise arise.
So be it, Lord; your realm shall never,
like earth's proud empires, pass away;
but stand and grow and rule forever,
till all your creatures own your sway.
Growing up I knew a lot of hymns by heart. But I remember the first time I sang this hymn. It was a day that Prof. Carl Volz was leading seminary chapel. It was in the morning. I remember Dr. Volz saying that the problem with morning worship is that we didn't get to sing some of the good evening hymns.
We frequently use the phrase "twenty-four/seven" to refer something or someone who is active all the time. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That's our global reality. But the our other reality is we as people and people of faith, need to have some boundaries in which we live in space and time.
Luther's evening prayer like other bed time prayers asks for God's care and protection in the night. This hymn offers the confident promise that God sustains us and our world even in our own repose. The end of the day in this hymn is gentle reminder that even great empires pass away, But God's rule does not. With the setting of the sun comes the promise of a new morning.
Lord, raise us up each day to give you praise and serve your world and at day's end give us rest in your enduring care.