When morning gilds the skies

# 427  When morning gilds the skies

Words:   German, translated by Robert Seymour Bridges

Music:    Laudes Domini by Joseph Barnby

No one knows the original author of this text, which was translated from the German. One German version with 14 six-line stanzas appeared in Katholisches Gesangbuch of 1828, published in Würzburg by Sebastian Pörtner. In 1855, another German version appeared in F. W. von Ditfurth's Fränkische Volkslieder. Edward Caswall translated part of it into English in 1854 for Henry Formby's Catholic Hymns, and translated the whole hymn – 28 couplets with the refrain “May Jesus Christ be praised” – for his own The Masque of Mary, and Other Poems in 1858. In 1899, Robert Bridges made another translation in 5 twelve-line stanzas for the Yattendon Hymnal, drawing on Caswall's well-known translation for continuity. These two well-known English translations are quite different and may derive from varying German versions. The 1982 Hymnal uses the 5 verse Bridges translation.

This hymn is often classified as a morning hymn simply because of the opening line. However, a number of places throughout the entirety of the text name other times of day; for example, “When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs.” It is more properly a hymn of praise for various times of day and many situations of life – joy and sorrow, worship and work, and more.

Joseph Barnby wrote 246 hymn tunes, but LAUDES DOMINI is one of only a handful still in use, and is without doubt his most popular tune. LAUDES DOMINI was written for this text and was published with it in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern. The tune name is Latin and means “praise the Lord,” which refers to the refrain “May Jesus Christ be praised.” The tune is in two halves, like the text of each stanza, each of which repeats a musical motive. 

Here's a rousing rendition from St. Barthomolew's  Church in New York City.  Make sure to listen to the splendid organ interlude between verses.  YOUTUBE