"LORD, IN THE MORNING THOU SHALT HEAR"
"My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up" (Ps. 5.3)
INTRO.: A hymn based upon Psalm 5 is "Lord, in the Morning Thou Shalt Hear." The text was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Originally in eight stanzas and entitled "For the Lord’s Day Morning," it was first published in his 1719 work The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and Applied to the Christian State and Worship. The most common tune (Warwick) used with the hymn generally was composed around 1796 by Samuel Stanley, but this melody is more often associated in our books with "To Our Redeemer’s Glorious Name" by Harriet Anne B. Steele. The 1980 New Harmonia Sacra–Legacy Edition, edited by Lydia Ann Beery and based on earlier editions of the (New) Harmonia Sacra–Genuine Church Music begun by Joseph Funk and published from 1822 to 1878, uses a tune (Gates) composed by T. J. Griggs. I have been able to locate no other information on this tune or its composer. Among hymnbooks published published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the only one where I have seen the hymn is the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater with the Stanley tune.
The song reminds us that when we arise in the morning is an excellent time to turn to the Lord in praise and prayer.
I. Stanza 1 tells us that we may pray in the morning
"Lord, in the morning Thou shalt hear My voice ascending high;
To Thee will I direct my prayer, To Thee lift up mine eye."
A. Morning is always a good time to worship the Lord: 1 Sam. 1.19
B. It is with the voice that we offer the sacrifice of praise to God: Heb. 13.15
C. And God also wants us to direct our prayer to Him: Phil. 4.6
II. Stanza 2 talks about our approach Christ
"Up to the hills, where Christ is gone To plead for all His saints,
Presenting at His Father’s throne Our songs and our complaints."
A. The hills point up to the sky, where Christ has gone: Ps. 121.1-2, Acts 1.9
B. There, He pleads for all His saints as our advocate with the Father: 1 Jn. 2.2
C. Therefore, through Him we may come before the throne to ask help: Heb. 4.14-16
III. Stanza 3 contrasts the righteous with the wicked
"Thou art a God before whose sight The wicked shall not stand;
Sinners shall ne’er be Thy delight, Nor dwell at Thy right hand."
A. The wicked or cannot stand before the sight of God and He will not hear them: 1 Pet. 3.12
B. While God wants sinners to be saved, those who remain sinners cannot be in the congregation of the righteous: Ps. 1.5
C. Only those who are righteous can dwell at God’s right hand: Col. 3.1
IV. Stanza 4 suggests that the righteous can resort to God’s house in the morning
"But to Thy house will I resort, To taste Thy mercies there;
I will frequent Thine holy court, And worship in Thy fear."
A. "To Thy house" suggests under the new covenant not so much a specific building but the assembling together of the saints: Heb. 10.25
B. It is there that we can taste God’s mercies in a special way when we are present to hear the preaching of God’s word: Acts 10.33
C. Also, it is there that we can join with brethren of like precious faith to worship God together: Jn. 4.24
V. Stanza 5 asks the Lord’s Spirit to guide us in our ways
"O may Thy Spirit guide my feet In ways of righteousness!
Make every path of duty straight And plain before my face."
A. One of the aims of God’s Holy Spirit is that we might be guided or led by Him: Gal. 5.16-25
B. God’s desire is that we be led by Him in ways of righteousness: Ps. 23.3
C. The means by which the Spirit makes every path of duty straight and plain before our faces is through the written word that He has caused to be revealed: Eph. 3.3-5, 6.18
CONCL.: Most modern books stop with stanza 5 (covering vs. 1-8 of the Psalm), probably because even in Watts’s original, there is a pause between stanzas 5 and 6 and the thought (as in the Psalm itself) changes from praising God to asking His help to overcome the enemies. The final three stanzas are as follows:
6. "My watchful enemies combine To tempt my feet astray;
They flatter, with a base design To make my soul their prey."
7. "Lord, crush the serpent in the dust, And all his plots destroy;
While those that in Thy mercy trust Forever shout for joy."
8. "The men that love and fear Thy name Shall see their hopes fulfilled;
The mighty God will compass them With favor as a shield."
The Psalms of the Old Testament were written to the people of Israel and contain some statements which applied specifically to them and not to us, which is one reason why Watts imitated them in the language of the New Testament. At the same time, they were written for our learning and are part of "all scripture" which is profitable for us. Therefore, I can use the Psalms as a basis upon which to tell God, concerning my prayer and praise, "Lord, In the Morning Thou Shalt Hear."