Now from the altar of my heart

Now from the altar of my heart

Author: John Mason (1683)
Published in 218 hymnals

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1 Now from the altar of my heart
Let incense flames arise;
Assist me, Lord, to offer up
Mine evening sacrifice.

2 Awake, my love; awake, my joy;
Awake, my heart and tongue;
Sleep not when mercies loudly call;
Break forth into a song.

3 Man's life's a book of history,
The leaves thereof are days;
The letters mercies closely joined,
The title is thy praise.

4 This day was God my sun and shield,
My keeper and my guide:
His tender care o'er me was shown,
His mercies multiplied.

5 Minutes and mercies multiplied
Have made up all this day;
Minutes came quick, but mercies were
More fleet and free than they.

6 New time, new favor, and new joys
New songs of praise require;
Till I shall praise thee as we would
Accept my heart's desire.

7 Lord of my time, whose hand hath set
New time upon my score,
Thee shall I praise for all my time,
When time shall be no more.

The Christian's duty, exhibited in a series of hymns, 1791

Author: John Mason

Mason, John. The known facts of his life are scanty. He was the son of a Dissenting Minister, and the grandfather of John Mason, the author of A Treatise on Self-Knowledge. He was educated at Strixton School, Northants, and Clare Hall, Cambridge. After taking his M.A., he became Curate of Isham; and in 1668, Vicar of Stantonbury, Bucks. A little more than five years afterwards he was appointed Rector of Water-Stratford. Here he composed the volume containing The Songs of Praise, his paraphrase of The Song of Solomon, and the Poem on Dives and Lazarus, with which Shepherd's Penitential Cries was afterwards bound up. This volume passed through twenty editions. Besides the Songs of Praise, it contains six Penitential Cries by Mason, and it i… Go to person page >

Text Information


Now, from the altar of our hearts. J. Mason. [Evening.] Appeared in his Spiritual Songs, or Songs of Praise, 1683, pp. 25-6, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines, and a half stanza of 4 lines, and entitled "A Song of Praise for the Evening." (Original text, Lyra Briananica, p. 396.) The third stanza, which is usually omitted in the hymnals, and reads:—

"Man's life's a book of history;
The leaves thereof are days;
The letters, mercies closely join'd;
The title is Thy praise,"

is usually thought to have suggested Dr. Franklin's well-known epitaph upon himself, wherein he compares his body to "the cover of an old book, the contents torn out, and stripped of its lettering and gilding." The whole hymn is sometimes quoted, and not without reason, as Mason's finest production.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



Composed by John B. Dykes (PHH 147), BEATITUDO was published in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875), where it was set to Isaac Watts' "How Bright Those Glorious Spirits Shine." Originally a word coined by Cicero, BEATITUDO means "the condition of blessedness." Like many of Dykes's…

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NAOMI (Nägeli)

NAOMI was a melody that Lowell Mason (PHH 96) brought to the United States from Europe and arranged as a hymn tune; the arrangement was first published in the periodical Occasional Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1836). Some scholars have attributed the original melody to Johann G. Nageli (PHH 315), but there…

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The Cyber Hymnal #4621
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Instances (1 - 4 of 4)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Common Praise (1998) #22TextPage Scan
Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #499*
Small Church Music #2563Audio
The Cyber Hymnal #4621TextScoreAudio
Include 214 pre-1979 instances