"ANOTHER YEAR IS DAWNING"
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Ps. 90:12)
INTRO.: A hymn which reminds us that with the passing of each year we need to number our days so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom is "Another Year Is Dawning." The text was written by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879). The words, under the title "A Happy New Year! Ever Such May It Be," were produced for her New Year’s greeting cards that she sent to her friends and In a letter by Miss Havergal to her family in England, written from Ormont Dessous, Switzerland and dated Sept., 1874, she included a list of "what I have written, and what I am going to write." Among the things already written is an item, "’New Year’s Wishes,’ by Caswell’s request, for a very pretty card." The poem was subsequently published later that year in her book Under the Surface. This hymn has been set to several different tunes. Most books that I have seen use one (Aurelia) composed in 1864 by Samuel Sebastian Wesley that is most commonly associated with Samuel J. Stone’s "The Church’s OneFoundation." Others include one arranged from Johann Michael Haydn and another by Friedrich von Flotow. One book has a tune (Christus Der Ist) by Melchior Vulpius that is also used with John Montgomery’s "God Is My Strong Salvation." And B. B. McKinney in 1940 altered the text to read "Another Day Is Dawning" and provided a new tune and a chorus.
The song may also be set to a fairly well known tune (Ewing or St. Bede’s) composed by Alexander Ewing, who was born on Jan. 3, 1830, at Old Machar in Aberdeen, Scotland. Though he studied law at Marischal College in Aberdeen, his true love was music and he sought a musical education at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. While he was not a professional musician, he became very skilled with the piano, cello, violin, and cornet. This melody, apparently produced after his return to Aberdeen from Heidelberg and intended for the medieval Latin hymn, "For Thee, O Dear, Dear Country" attributed to Bernard of Cluny and translated by John Mason Neale, is the only music that he is known to have composed. A member of both the Haydn Society and the Harmonic Choir, he brought the piece to choir practice one night, and that choir was the first ever to sing it. It was first printed as a single sheet in 1853, and later published in John Grey’s 1857 Manual of Psalm and Hymn Tunes. Later, William Henry Monk altered the tune for use in the 1861 Hymns Ancient and Modern with another medieval Latin hymn also attributed to Bernard of Cluny and translated by John Mason Neale, "Jerusalem, the Golden," for which our books use a tune by Anthony J. Showalter.
When the Crimean War broke out in 1855, Ewing joined the army, serving in the Commissariat Department, and was stationed for a while at Constantinople. Remaining in the foreign service as a linguist after the war and serving in Australia and China, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and received a medal for the 1869 campaign in China. Ewing died on July 11, 1895, at Taunton in Somerset, England. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, Miss Havergal’s text appeared with the Wesley tune in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the Ewing tune appeared with L. O. Sanderson’s adaptation of John Montgomery’s "God Is My Strong Salvation" (which Sanderson entitled "The Lord Is My Salvation") in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 edited by Sanderson.
The song encourages us to resolve with the beginning of the new year to be more faithful to the Lord.
I. Stanza 1 focuses upon our relationship with God
"Another year is dawning, Dear Father (Master), let it be,
In working or in waiting, Another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days."
A. God gave the sun and moon as signs to mark the seasons, days, and years: Gen. 1:14
B. Each year there will be times of working for the Lord and waiting for the Lord: 1 Cor. 15:58, 1 Thess. 1:10
C. In whatever we do, we need to use the year to make progress: 1 Tim. 4:15
II. Stanza 2 focuses upon God’s blessings to us
"Another year of mercies, Of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness, The glory of Thy face.
Another year of leaning Upon Thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting, Of quiet, happy rest."
A. Every year sees God’s mercies: Lam. 3:23
B. By His mercies, God puts gladness in our hearts: Ps. 4:7
C. Because of what God has done for us, we can trust Him: Prov. 3:5-6
III. Stanza 3 focuses upon our hope of eternity
"Another year of service, Of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training For holier work above.
Another year is dawning, Dear Father (Master), let it be,
On earth, or else in heaven, Another year for Thee."
A. As long as we live in this life, we need to be of service to the Lord, using our gifts to minister to one another: 1 Pet. 4:10
B. However, whatever service we do on earth, it is training for holier work above, since our hope is for eternal life: Tit. 1:2
C. Therefore, whatever the year brings us we can do God’s will, whether here on earth or in the world above with the hope of heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
CONCL.: I have no idea why some books have "Master" instead of "Father." I can understand why McKinney would change it to "Another Day Is Dawning" so that the song would be useful more than just one time a year. While God’s word does not authorize making some kind of religious celebration out of the new year, there is certainly nothing wrong with taking note of the passing of time from year to year and using it as a motivating factor to help us grow in our service to God, our appreciation of His goodness, and our desire for heaven as we see that "Another Year Is Dawning."