When morning gilds the skies

Hymn #367
Text: Anonymous early 19th-century German hymn;
translated in 1899 by Robert Bridges (1844–1930)
Music: Joseph Barnby (1838–1896)

The earliest known publication of the original German-language text of this hymn is in the 1828 Katholisches Gesanguch. An 1858 translation by Edward Caswell (1814-1878) was improved upon years later by the English poet laureate Robert Bridges (1844-1930). Bridges was a noted scholar and accomplished musician whose translations of “O sacred head, sore wounded,” “Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,” and several other hymns also grace the pages of our Hymnal.

Bridges’s translation included five stanzas omitted from our Hymnal; one of these is presented below in italics, along with the five that our Hymnal preserved.

1. When morning gilds the skies,
my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall,
this rings my curfew call,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Hell’s might doth flee away
for dread of this fair lay,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
My sin casts off its shame
Call I on Jesus’ name,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

2. When mirth for music longs,
this is my song of songs:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s holy house of prayer
hath none that can compare
with: Jesus Christ be praised!

3. No lovelier antiphon
in all high Heav’n is known
than, Jesus Christ be praised!
There to th’eternal Word
th’eternal psalm is heard:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

4. Ye nations of mankind,
in this your concord find:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let all the earth around
ring joyous with the sound:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

5. Sing, suns and stars of space,
sing, ye that see His face,
Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er,
for aye and evermore
shall Jesus Christ be praised!


LAUDES DOMINI was composed by Joseph Barnby for use with the earlier translation of this hymn, but it works admirably with the poetry of Bridges. The Hymnal 1940 Companion notes that it is a “vigorous tune,” one that benefits significantly from its active harmonization.

Here is a recording of members of the All Saints choir singing this hymn, one of our 2020 Choir-in-Quarantine series.