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Evening Prayer

Representative Text

1 Savior, breathe an evening blessing
Ere repose our spirits seal;
Sin and want we come confessing,
Thou canst save and Thou canst heal.

2 Though destruction walk around us,
Though the arrows 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 are 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 heaven awake us,
Clad in bright and deathless bloom.


Source: African Methodist Episcopal Church Hymnal #35

Author: James Edmeston

Edmeston, James, born Sept. 10, 1791. His maternal grandfather was the Rev. Samuel Brewer, who for 50 years was the pastor of an Independent congregation at Stepney. Educated as an architect and surveyor, in 1816 he entered upon his profession on his own account, and continued to practice it until his death on Jan. 7, 1867. The late Sir G. Gilbert Scott was his pupil. Although an Independent by descent he joined the Established Church at a comparatively early age, and subsequently held various offices, including that of churchwarden, in the Church of St. Barnabas, Homerton. His hymns number nearly 2000. The best known are “Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us” and "Saviour, breathe an evening blessing." Many of his hymns were written for c… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Savior, breathe an evening blessing
Title: Evening Prayer
Author: James Edmeston (1820)
Meter: D
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


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)



VESPER HYMN (Bortnianski)

VESPER HYMN appeared in John A. Stevenson's Selection of Popular National Airs (1818) as a setting for Thomas Moore's "Hark! The Vesper Hymn Is Stealing." A footnote in that hymnal explained that Stevenson had added what is-now the first line of the retrain to a "Russian Air." Some later hymnals att…

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Instances (1 - 12 of 12)
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African Methodist Episcopal Church Hymnal #35

Church Gospel Songs and Hymns #201

Church Hymnal, Mennonite #209

Great Songs of the Church (Revised) #40

Praise for the Lord (Expanded Edition) #558

Sacred Selections for the Church #283

Sacred Songs of the Church #517

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Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #49

Songs of Faith and Praise #772

TextPage Scan

The A.M.E. Zion Hymnal #592


The Cyber Hymnal #5918

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Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #403

Include 831 pre-1979 instances
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