"WELCOME, DELIGHTFUL MORN"
"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20)
INTRO.: A hymn which expresses joy for that day when we can gather together in Christ’s name is "Welcome, Delightful Morn." The text is attributed in our books to Thomas Hayward. It was first published in A New Selection of Seven Hundred Evangelical Hymns, for Private, Family, and Public Worship of 1806, edited by John Dobell (1757-1840). There it was signed just "Hayward." Samuel W. Duffield, in English Hymns, wrote of this hymn, "The present writer is familiar with a curious volumn, first printed in 1817, and written by ‘J. Pike and J. Hayward,’ entitled Cases of Conscience Answered….Perhaps the joint author of this book is the ‘Hayward’ of the hymn." The authorship is often listed as "Unknown." Duffield said, "The author is a figment and a shadow still." William J. Reynolds wrote, "The identity of the author has never been discovered."
The tune (Lischer or Das Lieben) has generally been attributed in most older books to Friedrich Johann Christian Schneider, who was born at Alt-Waltersdorf in Saxony, Germany, on Jan. 3, 1786. Educated at the University of Keipzig, he served as an organist there beginning in 1807, conductor of the Seconda Opera Company beginning in 1810, and director of the Municipal Theater beginning in 1817. Sometime after 1821, he moved to Dessau, Germany, where he established a music school and served as a musical conductor. His own compositions include seventeen oratorios, 23 symphonies, and seven operas, along with cantatas, masses, and overtures. It has been believed that the melody was probably produced sometime after his move to Dessau, where he died on Nov., 23, 1853. The arrangement was made by Lowell Mason (1792-1872). It was first published in his 1841 Carmina Sacra, or Boston Collection of Church Music.
However, more modern sources identify the composer as Friedrich Silcher, who was born on June 27, 1789, at Remstal, near Stuttgart, Germany, and became a well known music teacher and composer. In 1817, he was appointed music director at the University of Tubingen and began collecting, composing, and editing hundreds of folk songs and hymn tunes for choir and home singing, some of which he composed and others he arranged. One of his own best known compositions is "The Lorelei" with words by Heinrich Heine. Concerning this hymn tune, Cyberhymnal says, "Some hymnals…erroneously give Silcher’s name as ‘Schneider.’" At the same time, it is possible that Silcher adapted it for one of his collections from a melody composed by Schneider. Silcher died at Tubingen on Aug. 26, 1860.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Welcome, Delightful Morn" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal (where the same tune is also used with another hymn, "On Wings of Living Light," by William W. How) edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it is found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann. The same tune is used as an alternate for Charles Wesley’s 1746 hymn "Rejoice, the Lord Is King," in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.
The song emphasizes the wonderful blessings that Christians gain from assembling on the Lord’s day.
I. Stanza 1 welcomes the day of worship
"Welcome, delightful morn, Thou day of sacred rest!
I hail thy kind return; Lord, make these moments blest.
From the low train of mortal toys, I soar to reach immortal joys."
A. Some might object to calling the first day of the week a "day of sacred rest," because they feel that it places the New Testament worship on the same par as the Old Testament sabbath, but the fact is that the Lord’s day can be thought of as a day of spiritual rest in that our souls are provided refreshment in worship just as John was "in the Spirit" on the Lord’s day: Rev. 1:10
B. We should want the Lord to make such moments blest so that we can worship in spirit and in truth: Jn. 4:24
C. It is in our worship that we soar from "the low train of mortal joys" to reach the "immortal joys" of the heavenly hosts: Rev. 4:8-11
II. Stanza 2 expresses the joy of worship
"To spend one sacred day Where God and saints abide
Affords diviner joy Than thousand days beside;
I love it more where God resorts, To keep the door than shine in courts."
A. The idea of spending one sacred day where God and saints abide comes directly from the scriptures: Ps. 84:10
B. Certainly, God’s people have reason to rejoice in the Lord always, but it is in our worship that we are reminded of many of the special reasons that we have to rejoice: Phil. 4:4
C. What a wonderful privilege for God’s children to be able to be in His presence where He resorts: Acts 10:33
III. Stanza 3 asks the King to be present in the worship
"Now may the King descend And fill His throne with grace;
The scepter, Lord, extend, While saints address Thy face.
Let sinners feel Thy quickening word And learn to know and fear the Lord."
A. While it is true that God is present everywhere, there is a special sense in which we can ask our King to fulfil His promise that He might descend or come down upon us as we assemble for worship and fill His throne with grace: Ps. 72:5-7
B. Such times present special opportunities for the saints to come before His throne and address His face together: Heb. 4:14-16
C. Such times may also be occasions where sinners can feel the quickening word and learn to know the Lord, since it is clear that there were sometimes unbelievers in the assemblies of first century churches: 1 Cor. 14:22
IV. Stanza 4 calls upon the Spirit to come and bless the worship
"Descend, celestial Dove, With all Thy quickening powers;
Disclose a Savior’s love, And bless these sacred hours.
Then shall my soul new life obtain, Nor sabbaths e’er be spent in vain."
A. All of our books omit this stanza, most likely because most brethren, including myself, object to praying directly to the Spirit, and it is addressed to the Holy Spirit who came down in the manner of a dove on Jesus following His baptism: Matt. 3:16
B. However, since singing and praying are separate acts (1 Cor. 14:15), I believe that one can sing words addressed to the Spirit which call upon Him to do what the Scriptures teach that He will do without necessarily "praying" to Him. The stanza may be understood simply to be calling upon the Spirit to bless our worship, not in any miraculous or even direct way, but simply by filling our hearts as taught in the scriptures by letting His word dwell in us richly: Eph. 5:18-19, Col. 3:16
C. In this way, each person who is present and participates in the worship obtains new life in their souls as they are helped to develop the fruit of the Spirit in their hearts: Gal. 5:22-23.
CONCL.: As many of our books have done with other hymns, it would be an easy matter to change the final line of stanza 4 to read "Nor worship e’er be spent in vain" to eliminate the confusion of thinking that the Lord’s day or first day of the week is "the Christian’s sabbath." The tune requires the repetition of the final line of each stanza. While there are many subjects about which we can and should sing, it is good to be able, when we contemplate assembling together on the first day of the week, to say "Welcome, Delightful Morn."