"O SAVIOR, BLESS US ERE WE GO"
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (Jn. 1:9)
INTRO.: A hymn which asks the Lord to be our light as we travel through life is "O Savior, Bless Us Ere We Go." The text was written by Frederick William Faber (1814-1863). Intended as an evening hymn and originally beginning "Sweet Savior, bless us," it was produced with seven stanzas in 1849 for use at the London Roman Catholic Oratory and was first published with five stanzas in Faber’s 1852 Jesus and Mary Hymns. Faber is probably best known for the hymn "Faith of Our Fathers." The tune (Stella) which our books use for "O Savior, Bless Us" is identified as an anonymous Old English Air of unknown composition and date. It was arranged and first published in his 1851 or 1852 Easy Hymn Tunes for Catholic Schools by Henri Frederick Hemy (1818-1888). The story is told that Hemy heard school children singing a song to this melody at a village near Newcastle named Stella.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "O Savior, Bless Us Ere We Go" appeared in the 1922 edition of 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; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand. It is possible that "Sweet Savior" was changed to "O Savior" because E. L. Jorgenson needed a song beginning with "O" to complete a page for his alphabetical arrangement of first lines in Great Songs. Our books use only stanzas 1, 3, and 4 below; the 1922 edition of Great Songs (No. 1) also had stanza 5 but it was dropped in the 1925 edition.
The song is a request for the Lord to bless us especially as we leave our assembling together to go into the world.
I. Stanza 1 calls for God’s word
"O Savior, bless us ere we go; Thy word into our minds instill,
And make our lukewarm hearts to glow With lowly love and fervent will."
A. One reason for assembling together is to hear God’s word which should then dwell richly within us: Col. 3:16
B. Sometimes our hearts may grow somewhat lukewarm, as was true of the Laodiceans: Rev. 3:15-16
C. Therefore, we should turn to the Lord to make our lukewarm hearts glow with greater love for Him and others: Mk. 12:29-31
II. Stanza 2 calls for God’s notice
"The day is done, its hours have run, And Thou hast taken count of all:
The scanty triumphs grace hath won, The broken vow, the frequent fall."
A. When each day is done, God has taken count of all because nothing is hidden from His sight: Heb. 4:13
B. He sees the scanty triumphs which we have been able to win by His grace: Lk. 17:10
C. He also sees the broken vows, frequent falls, and other sins that we commit: 1 Jn. 1:8
III. Stanza 3 calls for God’s forgiveness
"Grant us, dear Lord, from evil ways True absolution and release,
And bless us, more than in past days, With purity and inward peace."
A. Even though we may strive to do good, sometimes our lives are still characterized by evil ways because the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and we yield to temptations: Gal. 5:17, Jas. 1:14-15
B. When this happens, we must obtain absolution and release, or in other words forgiveness, for our sins: Acts 8:22, 1 Jn. 1:9
C. But we must also ask for Him to help us do better by asking that He bless us, more than in the past, with purity of heart: Matt. 5:8
IV. Stanza 4 calls for God’s joy
"Do more than pardon; give us joy, Sweet fear, and sober liberty,
And loving hearts without alloy That only long to be like Thee."
A. Yes, we need pardon, but we need more; we need God to restore to us the joy of salvation: Ps. 51:12
B. We also need both sweet fear and sober liberty: Eccl. 12:13-14, Gal. 5:1
C. Above all, we need loving hearts that long to be more like God in His holiness: 1 Pet. 1:15-16
V. Stanza 5 calls for God’s mercy
"For all we love, the poor, the sad, The sinful, unto Thee we call;
O let Thy mercy make us glad. Thou art our Jesus, and our All."
A. We should pray not only for ourselves but also for others in need that God will bless them: 1 Tim. 2:1
B. It is only the mercy of God that will make us and those for whom we pray glad: 2 Tim. 1:16-18
C. And it is through Jesus, our Mediator and our All, that we pray: Col. 3:11
VI. Stanza 6 calls for God’s watchfulness
"Sweet Savior, bless us; night is come. Through night and darkness near us be.
Good angels watch about our home, And we are one day nearer Thee."
A. The coming of night is often used as a symbol of the darkness of sin that characterizes the world: Jn. 3:19-21
B. In both kinds of darkness, we should want God’s watchfulness and care over us. We do not know exactly how God uses angels to guard and protect His people, but we do know that they are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation: Heb. 1:14
C. We can also remember that as each day ends, we are one day nearer our salvation than we were before: Rom. 13:11
CONCL.: The chorus looks to Jesus for light as we travel through life’s long day and then experience death’s dark night.
"Through life’s long day, and death’s dark night,
O gentle Jesus, be our Light."
The omitted stanza is
5. "Labor is sweet, for Thou has toiled, And care is light, for Thou has cared;
Let not our works with self be soiled, Nor in unsimple ways ensnared."
This song has often been used as a closing song for a worship service to seek the Lord’s guidance and protection as we depart from one another, saying, "O Savior, Bless Us Ere We Go."