Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun

Here is another hymn for the morning time!

Title: Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun

Tune: Morning Hymn


Author: Thomas Ken (July 1637- 19th March, 1711)

Composer: Francois H. Barthelemon (27th July, 1741-23rd July 1808)

          This hymn was originally written at the same time as two others. The author, Thomas Ken, wrote this hymn specifically as a morning prayer, as well as another for an evening prayer, and one more for a midnight prayer, which was used only during special occasions. Written sometime prior to 1674, Ken gave this text to his students at Winchester College, which is one of the oldest public preparatory schools in England. It is speculated that Ken had written the text on manuscript papers and handed them out to the students, because he made reference to the works in his publication A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College (London, 1674). In a short message to his students in A Manuel, Ken said “Be sure to sing the Morning and Evening Hymn in your chamber devoutly, remembering that the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning and of his truth in the night season” (Westermeyer, 2010, p. 393). Though Ken makes reference to the hymns in his publication, he did not publish “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun” in the book. Ken did not actually publish the works until his 1695 version of A Manuel was published. Ken would sing these hymns accompanied by a viol or a spinet, but it is unknown what tunes he used (, par. 2).

          Though Ken did not publish his works for years, it would eventually become a necessity, to avoid confusion over other hymns that were similar to his. In 1694, all three of his hymns were published in a pamphlet, but the copies were found to be “imperfect and surreptitious copies of these hymns printed without his [Ken's] knowledge” (Westermeyer, p. 394). Because the copies of the hymns were so wrong, Ken felt it was necessary to publish the works in his own defense. Ken published these hymns in his 1695 version of A Manuel, and again in his 1709 version of A Manuel, with a total of fourteen stanzas in each. The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) used only five of the stanzas, using stanzas 1, 9, 12, 13, and 14, and did it using only small alterations to singular words, instead of entire phrases or passages. The Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) follows the same structure as the Lutheran Book of Worship (Westermeyer, p. 394).

          Thomas Ken was a very successful man, having been schooled well, and having faced death at such a young age. Born in Berkhampstead, England, Ken lost both his mother and father at the age of nine. After the death of his parents, he was forced to move in and be raised by his older sister, Ann, and by Ann's husband, Izaak Walton. Ken was educated at Winchester College, Hart Hall, and New College, Oxford, but throughout the heavy Presbyterian presence throughout Oxford, Ken maintained his strong connections to the Church of England. Ken was ordained in 1662, and quickly became a parish priest and chaplain. In 1669, Ken became the prebendary of Winchester Cathedral and College chaplain to the bishop, a position he would hold for ten years. It was during this ten year stay at Winchester that Ken wrote this morning hymn. Finally, Ken left Winchester so that he may serve as a chaplain to Princess Mary at The Hague in 1679, and in 1685, he was named bishop of Bath and Wells (Westermeyer, p. 393). Ken spent only a short time away from Winchester. He returned from his work with Princess Mary at The Hague after Ken's remonstrance against a case of immorality in the church (, Par. 2).

          Ken was a well-respected man of integrity who was known for his strong stances, but was also known for his “conciliatory spirit....gentleness, modesty, and love,” (Westermeyer, p. 395). He was also known as one of the first Anglican writers of hymns as opposed to metrical psalms, though he is only known best for these three hymns. Ken is known for having been made Bishop of Bath and Wells by King Charles II. King Charles still favored Ken, even though Ken had refused the kings mistress, Nell Gwynne, the use of his house while she was visiting. King James II called Ken the most eloquent protestant preacher of his time, and Charles was noted of saying “I must go and hear Ken tell me my faults,” (Westermeyer, p. 394).

          The tune “Morning Hymn” comes from a Swedenborgian from Philadelphia by the name of Jacob Duche (1737-1798). Duche was the chaplain of the Female Orphan Asylum in London, a place where a young woman by the name of Mary Young Barthelemon had close associations with. While Duche was putting together a collection of hymns and psalms to be used at the asylum, he requested a hymn tune from her husband, Francois H. Barthelemon (27th July, 1741- 23rd July, 1808), to accompany the text to Ken's text (Westermeyer, p. 395). The tune first appeared in a supplement to William Gawler's Hymns and Psalms Used at the Asylum for Female Orphans, which was published in London around 1785. The tune, when first heard, was thought to be a children's tune, though it is difficult to tell what exactly is a children's tune, and what is not. Paul Westermeyer is quoted as saying “Whether such distinctions can be made very successfully is a question, since children love to sing fine hymn tunes as well as adults, and adults delight in singing what children also enjoy” (Westermeyer, p. 395).

          Barthelemon was born at Bordeaux, France, as the oldest child of sixteen. His Father was a French army officer, and his mother a well-to-do Irish woman. Barthelemon was a well-educated man, having a knowledge of several modern languages, studied music, fencing and Hebrew, gave up his career as an Irish Regiment officer to become a violinist and conductor. He played in the orchestra of the Paris Comedie-Italienne, as well as served as the director of the Opera Orchestra in London (Westermeyer, p. 395). Barthelemon's wife, Mary Young, was a vocalist who was related to the composer Thomas Arne, and the bassoonist, Johann Lampe, who is known to have composed music for several of Charles Wesley's hymns. Barthelemon and his wife became members of the Swedenborg Church, possibly under the influences of Jacob Duche, who became a close friend of the two. Mary Young and Francois H. Barthelemon gave many concerts across Europe, including several at Versailles for Marie Antoinette, and Franz Joseph Haydn was also one of his close friends.

The Text:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

My Take on the Hymn:

          This hymn is very simple, asking for God to help us be better each and every day. The text is perfect for a morning prayer, because it not only asks God to help us “redeem time misspent,” but it serves as a reminder for us that we need to try harder ourselves. God will always help us, and with Him, anything is possible. First and foremost, we must put effort in ourselves. God will provide us with the answers and the help that we need, but he cannot do it if we don't act as his hands and feet. I have struggled to find a good prayer for the morning time, but this text seems to be good for helping remind me to be a better person each and every day. Each and every day, we should set a goal. We don't need to be able to go from sitting on the couch, to running six miles in one day, but, we should strive instead to be even a little better today than we were yesterday. God will carry us through our troubles, and we, in turn, can be just a little better for Him each and every day!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video, and follow along!


"Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun." Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun. Cyber Hymnal, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2013.

Julian, John. "Thomas Ken." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2013.

Psalter Hymnal Handbook. "Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2013.

Westermeyer, Paul. "Morning/Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 393-96. Print.

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