439. We Come to Thank You, God, by Singing

1 We come to thank you, God, by singing
your praises in our evening song.
The sunlight may be disappearing,
but you, our light, stay bright and strong.
You have surrounded us with favor,
more than a father you have been.
Our source of blessing will not waver;
your mercies, Lord, are clearly seen.

2 You chose to safeguard us forever;
your hand has fed us, led us through.
When we were troubled, you were ever
our helper near, so close and true.
This evening we must not be anxious
our minds and bodies will be blest.
We give you thanks for help so gracious;
from dawn to dawn you never rest.

3 We know who is our consolation,
unchanging, though night follows day.
We know the Rock, our firm foundation;
you never fail, our strength and stay.
Though you may call us in the evening
of lives made weary by our strife,
we rest our hope for brighter morning
on you, Lord of eternal life!

Text Information
First Line: We come to thank you, God, by singing
Title: We Come to Thank You, God, by Singing
Author: Herman A. Bruining (1806)
Translator: Arie Verduijn (1969)
Meter: 98 98 D
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Brevity & Frailty of Life; Funerals; Praise & Adoration (7 more...)
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Johanna Wagenaar
Meter: 98 98 D
Key: F Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 103:13
st. 2 = Phil. 4:6
st. 3 = Ps. 46:1

Herman A. Bruining (b. Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 1738; d. Veere, the Netherlands, 1811) wrote a five-stanza Dutch evening hymn that began "'k Wil U, O God, mijn dank betalen." It was published in the Dutch hymnal Evangelische Gezangeng (1806). Luther's instructions in his Little Catechism about evening devotions were undoubtedly the inspiration for this text.

Bruining studied at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and became a pastor in the Reformed Church, serving congregations in Kolham, Workum, and Veere. He was widely respected for his theological and biblical studies.

Arie Verduijn (b. Oudshoorn, the Netherlands, 1911; d. Burlington, ON, Canada, 1992) translated Bruining's stanzas 1 and 5 (now st. 1 and 3) into English in 1969 as an expression of "my thanks for all my blessings after God took home my wife, Eeke." It was first sung at an Old Years' service in First Christian Reformed Church, Hamilton, Ontario, on December 31, 1969. He translated stanza 2 in 1986. Following the original Dutch, Verduijn's translation began "I want to thank you, God," but the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee changed all singular pronouns to plural ones.

An engineer by profession, Verduijn always had a lively interest in church music and served as organist in several churches in the Netherlands. After immigrating to Canada in 1952, he was organist in several Christian Reformed and Presbyterian churches in Ontario. Trained at the Technical College in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, Verduijn worked at the Philips Company in Eindhoven as well as at other Dutch firms. In Canada he worked as an industrial engineer for the Steel Company of Canada, Hamilton, Ontario (1955-1976). He has published many articles in technical publications as well as a family chronicle and autobiography, Sojourners (1981).

Like many vesper hymns, the text contrasts the fading daylight and approaching darkness with the eternal light of Christ. Stanzas 1 and 2 express gratitude to God for his blessings that come our way during the days of our lives. Stanza 3 turns “evening” into a metaphor for the closing years of earthly life when we may "rest our hope for the brighter morning" on the Lord of eternal life and light.

Liturgical Use:
An evening hymn of thankfulness for God's providence; New Year's Eve services; funerals; as a hymn of gratitude and consolation.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook,

Tune Information:

DIE TUGEND WIRD is derived from the more ornamented version found in Johann Freylinghausen's (PHH 34) Geistreiches Gesangbuch (1704), where it was used as a setting for "Die Tugend wird am Kreus geubet." The tune is a rounded bar form (AABA) with harmony suited to part singing. Congregational singing will benefit from firm organ support.

Johanna Wagenaar (b. Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1900) prepared the isorhythmic (all equal rhythms) setting for the choral edition of Psalmen en Gezangen of the Dutch Hervormde Kerk (1938).

Wagenaar first studied music (mainly theory and church music) with her father, who was organist at the Domkerk in Utrecht, the Netherlands. After completing formal studies in Utrecht, she continued music studies in Berlin. Wagenaar returned to the Netherlands, where she taught harmony, counterpoint, and piano at the Koninklijk Conservatorium of Music in The Hague. Composing new tunes and supplying harmonizations for existing tunes, she was active on hymnal commissions for the Hervormde Kerk and the Nederlandse Protestanten Bond.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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