Saturday, November 13, 2010

O Day Full of Grace

This Sunday will feature some of the greatest hymns in the ELW: "If You But Trust in God to Guide You," "This is My Father's World," and "Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow."  The choir will also be singing a great piece by Mozart titled "To God Be Joyful."  It has the distinctly Mozart-ian sound that makes you sit up straighter in your seat and walk with a bounce in your step.  I hope it conjures images from Amadeus, the costumes and the wigs and the dances, all so much more formal and elegant than everyday life.

 But the song that I know will be my favorite is our opening hymn, "O Day Full of Grace."  Whenever I hear the text, I always hear the St. Olaf Choir singing the incredible arrangement by F. Melius Christiansen.  It's among the best vocal tone painting ever written.  The music beautifully depicts the sunrise.  The text of the first verse describes the day just appearing on earth's horizon, while the second verse takes us from the "gracious midnight hour" through dawn and the rising sun, driving gloom from our hearts.  Later verses continue the swell of activity and joy as the day continues, and it all ends with a nod toward the future and our trip to the eternal promised land.

With the amazingly beautiful fall weather in Ohio lately, it's easy to understand where the inspiration for this hymn came from.  Thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time, we can drive to church in the early morning sunshine shining through the newly bare trees.  For me, it also brings to mind November deer hunting weekends, sitting in a tree stand as dawn came slowly to the landscape and birds began to sing.  Such beauty slips by us unnoticed so often, but tomorrow we will sing and remind ourselves that we are enjoying a day full of grace.


  1. What a beautiful picture! One of the things I love about the bare trees is you get see their architecture which is so beautiful! It reminds me of how I look to God. I can dress up in all kinds of leaves to hide my basic nature to the people around me, but God sees my bare branches - and he loves me without any leaves to cover. Everyday is a "Day Full of Grace".

  2. I got to sing O Day Full of Grace at St. Olaf in 1983, and I still get moved to tears when I sing it or hear it. What a truly glorious song!