1 Savior, breath an evening blessing,
ere repose our spirits seal;
sin and want we come confessing:
thou can'st save, and thou canst heal.
2 Though destruction walk around us,
though the arrow past us fly,
angel guards from thee surround us;
we are safe if thou art nigh.
3 Though the night be dark and dreary,
darkness cannot hide from thee;
thou art he who, never weary,
watchest where thy people be.
4 Should swift death this night o'ertake us,
and our couch become our tomb,
may the morn in heav'n awake us,
clad in light and deathless bloom.
Source: Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #403
|First Line:||Savior, breathe an evening blessing|
|Author:||James Edmeston (1820)|
Saviour, breathe an evening blessing. J. Edmeston. [Evening.] Appeared in his Sacred Lyric, first set, 1820, p. 4, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines, and thus introduced "At night their short evening hymn”, Jesu Mahaxaroo' = 'Jesus forgive us’ stole through the camp.— Salte's Travels in Abyssinia." One of the earliest to adopt it for congregational use was Bickersteth, who included it in his Christian Psalmody, 1833. It was repeated in the Leeds Hymn Book, 1853, and others, until it has taken rank with the first Evening Hymns in the English language. It is found in the hymnals of all English-speaking countries, and usually in its correct and complete form.
In the Hymnal Companion, revised edition, 1876, Bishop Bickersteth has added a third stanza of 8 lines, beginning "Father, to Thy holy keeping," and in Thring's Collection, 1882, the editor has re-arranged the hymn, omitted the lines concerning sudden death, and added a fourth stanza in 4 lines, beginning "Be Thou nigh, should death o'ertake us," in which the same thought is contained in a milder form. It has been translated into several languages. The Latin rendering, by R. Bingham, in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina 1871, is "Vespere, Salvator, spires benedicta, priusquam." In Martineau's Hymns, 1840 and 1873, the opening line is changed to "Holiest, breathe an evening blessing." Orig. text in the Hymnal Companion, st. i., ii.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Saviour, breathe an evening blessing, p. 995, ii. Bp. Bickersteth, in the 1890 ed. of his Hymnal Companion, has changed the opening line of this hymn to "Father, breathe an evening blessing." His reason is that having substituted what is practically a doxology for Edmeston's original third stanza, he is justified in substituting "Father" for "Saviour" in the opening line of the hymn.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)