1 Stillness reigns—the vapors steal
Slowly down the mountain’s brow,
And the evening shadows veil
Nature’s face of brightness now;
Flowers put off their glorious dress,
All the morning smiles are fled,
Earth is wrapped in loneliness,
And the silence of the dead.
2 Thus beneath the hand of God
Nature wakes and sleeps; but still
All obedient to His nod,
All submissive to His will.
So we flourish, so we fade;
Drinking now life’s cup of joy,
Now on nature’s bosom laid,
Treasured for eternity.
3 All is mortal but the soul,
Whose undying energy
Spurns the fettering world’s control,
And upsoars, my God, to Thee.
When life’s evening twilight shrouds
All our thoughts with care and gloom,
When Thy sunshine breaks the clouds
Gathered o’er the wintry tomb.
4 Desolate the path appears
To the dim and distant eye;
Yet that path of darkness bears
Flowers of immortality.
O’er it shine eternal lamps;
And the mists so dark that seem,
Are like morning’s chilly damps
Heralding the sunny beam.
5 Father! Thy paternal care
Has my guardian been, my guide;
Every hallowed wish and prayer
Has Thy hand of love supplied;
Thine is every thought of bliss,
Left by hours and days gone by;
Every hope Thine offspring is,
Beaming from futurity.
6 Every sun of splendid ray;
Every moon that shines serene;
Every morn that welcomes day;
Every evening’s twilight scene;
Every hour which wisdom brings;
Every incense at Thy shrine;
These—and all life’s holiest things,
And its fairest—all are Thine.
7 And for all my hymns shall rise,
Daily to Thy gracious throne:
Thither let my asking eyes
Turn unwearied—righteous One!
Thro’ life’s strange vicissitude
There reposing all my care,
Trusting still, thro’ ill and good,
Fixed and cheered and counseled there.
8 All besides is weak indeed,
Dreams of folly—baseless hope;
Earth is but a broken reed:
Heaven the best, the only prop.
Who would live, to raise on earth
Some frail pile of dust—and die?
Man is of immortal birth,
Living for eternity.
James Bowring was born at Exeter, in 1792. He possessed at an early age a remarkable power of attaining languages, and acquired some reputation by his metrical translations of foreign poems. He became editor of "The Westminster Review" in 1825, and was elected to Parliament in 1835. In 1849, he was appointed Consul at Canton, and in 1854, was made Governor of Hong Kong, and received the honour of knighthood. He is the author of some important works on politics and travel, and is the recipient of several testimonials from foreign governments and societies. His poems and hymns have also added to his reputation. His "Matins and Vespers" have passed through many editions. In religion he is a Unitarian.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charl… Go to person page >