O Gracious Light – Phos Hilaron

Usually, A Collection of Prayers does not feature hymns, since another fine website, Hymnary.org, has extensive information, multiple translations, and charts on hymns appearance in hymnals. “O Gracious Light” is an exception because of its liturgical use.

“O Gracious Light” was first recorded by an unknown author in the Apostolic Constitutions, which was written in the late 3rd or early 4th century. It is an evening hymn, often used as part of the Lucernarium, the Service of Light. Ideally, candles would be lit as the hymn is sung. Several versions of Vespers (Evening Prayer) include some version of “O Gracious Light” as an opening hymn.

O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Source: Book of Common Prayer (U. S.), 1979, p. 112.

Original in Greek:

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν
ἁγίας δόξης ἀθανάτου Πατρός, οὐρανίου,
ἁγίου, μάκαρος, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ,

ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν,
ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν,
ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, Υἱόν, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, Θεόν.

Ἄξιόν σε ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναῖς αἰσίαις,
Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς·
διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάζει.

“O Gracious Light” has been translated into English many times into both prose and poetic versions.

Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978 (Prose)

Joyous light of glory of the immortal Father,
Heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ,
We have come to the setting of the Sun
And we look to the evening light.
We sing to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever.
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
The universe proclaims your glory.

This is a copyrighted text, © 1978 Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Robert Bridges, d. 1930 (Poetic)

O gladsome light, O grace
of God the Father’s face,
the eternal splendour wearing;
celestial, holy, blest,
our Saviour Jesus Christ,
joyful in thine appearing.

Now, ere day fadeth quite,
we see the evening light,
our wonted hymn outpouring;
Father of might unknown,
thee, his incarnate Son,
and Holy Spirit adoring.

To thee of right belongs
all praise of holy songs,
O Son of God, Lifegiver;
thee, therefore, O Most High,
the world doth glorify,
and shall exalt forever.

F. Bland Tucker, d. 1984 (Poetic)

O gracious Light, Lord Jesus Christ,
in you the Father’s glory shone.
Immortal, holy, blest is he,
and blest are you, his holy Son.

Now sunset comes, but light shines forth,
the lamps are lit to pierce the night.
Praise Father, Son, and Spirit; God
who dwells in the eternal light.

Worthy are you of endless praise,
O Son of God, Life-giving Lord;
wherefore you are through all the earth
and in the highest heaven adored.

This is a copyrighted text, © The Church Pension Fund

Published by

pastorstratman

Lutheran pastor and musician serving St. Stephen's in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

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