Essay / On This Day

Today Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath, Died (1711)

Thomas Ken (1637-1711), bishop of Bath and Wells, was one of the non-juring bishops who stayed loyal to the Stuart line during the reign of William and Mary. His greatest work is probably his Practice of Divine Love, a kind of extended devotional treatment of the Catechism of the Church of England. The sub-section of this work, on the Apostles’ Creed, is especially good and was often published by itself.

Bath has literary fame as the place Jane Austen heroines vacationed for their restoration; as the bishop of Bath and Wells, Ken wrote a volume of Prayers for the use of all persons who come to the baths of Bath for cure.

But Thomas Ken is chiefly remembered on any given Sunday in the English-speaking world as a hymn-writer, because it was he who wrote this quatrain:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all Creatures here below,
Praise Him above y’ Angelick Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Ken wrote hymns for every day in the liturgical calendar, but his famous doxology is from hymns that he wrote for the beginning and end of every day: A Morning Hymn and an Evening Hymn. Each of them is a densely-packed theology of the human day, and each ends with the now-famous doxology.

A Morning HYMN

AWAKE my Soul, and with the Sun,
Thy daily stage of Duty run ;
Shake off dull Sloth, and early rise,
To pay thy Morning Sacrifice.

Redeem thy mispent time that’s past,
Live this day, as if ’twere thy last :
T’improve thy Talent take due care,
‘Gainst the great Day thyself prepare.

Let all thy Converse be sincere,
Thy Conscience as the Noon-day clear ;
Think how all-seeing God thy ways,
And all thy secret Thoughts surveys.

Influenc’d by the Light Divine,
Let thy own Light in good Works shine :
Eeflect all Heaven’s propitious ways,
In ardent Love, and chearful Praise.

Wake and lift up thy self my Heart,
And with the Angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing,
Glory to the Eternal King.

I wake, I wake, ye Heavenly Choire,
May your Devotion me inspire,
That I like you my Age may spend,
Like you may on my God attend.

May I like you in God delight,
Have all day long my God in sight,
Perform like you my Maker’s Will,
O may I nevermore do ill.

Had I your Wings, to Heaven I’d flie,
But God shall that defect supply,
And my Soul wing’d with warm desire,
Shall all day long to Heav’n aspire.

Glory to Thee who safe hast kept,
And hast refresht me whilst I slept.
Grant Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless Light partake.

I would not wake, nor rise again,
Ev’n Heav’n itself I would disdain ;
Wer’t not Thou there to be enjoy’d,
And I in Hymns to be imploy’d.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where e’r Thou art,
O never then from me depart ;
For to my Soul ’tis Hell to be,
But for one moment without Thee.

Lord I my vows to Thee renew,
Scatter my sins as Morning dew,
Guard my first springs of Thought, and Will,
And with Thy self my Spirit fill.

Direct, controul, suggest this day,
All I design, or do, or say ;
That all my Powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole Glory may unite.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all Creatures here below,
Praise Him above y’ Angelick Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

An Evening HYMN

GLORY to Thee my God, this night,
For all the Blessings of the Light ;
Keep me, O keep me, King of Kings,
Under Thy own Almighty Wings.

Forgive me Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the World, my self, and Thee,
I, e’r I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The Grave as little as my Bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may
Triumphing rise at the last day.

O may my Soul on Thee repose.
And with sweet sleep mine Eye-lids close ;
Sleep that may me more vig’rous make,
To serve my God when I awake.

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My Soul with Heavenly Thoughts supply
Let no ill Dreams disturb my Eest,
No powers of darkness me molest.

Dull sleep of Sense me to deprive,
I am but half my days alive ;
Thy faithful Lovers, Lord, are griev’d
To lie so long of Thee bereav’d.

But though sleep o’r my frailty reigns,
Let it not hold me long in chains,
And now and then let loose my Heart,
Till it an Hallelujah dart.

The faster sleep the sense does bind,
The more unfetter’d is the Mind;
O may my Soul from matter free!
Thy unvail’d Goodness waking see.

O when shall I in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And endless praise with th’ Heavenly Choire,
Incessant sing, and never tire.

You my blest Guardian whilst I sleep,
Close to my Bed your Vigils keep,
Divine Love into me instill,
Stop all the avenues of ill

Thought to thought with my Soul converse,
Celestial Joys to me rehearse,
And in my stead all the night long,
Sing to my God a grateful Song.

Praise God from whom all Blessings flow,
Praise Him all Creatures here below,
Praise Him above y’ Angelick Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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