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

Mozarabic Evening Prayer

At evening, morning and noon,
It is right, O Lord, that we should praise you.

Lord God almighty, you have made one day of the evening, the morning, and noon.  You have ordered the sun in its rising and setting. Make your way through the darkness of our hearts, that being enlightened by you, we may know you as the true God and our eternal light.
Amen.

Through your mercy, O our God, you are blessed, and live and govern all things, now and forever.
Amen.

Source: Mozarabic, 7th century
Source of this version: Freely modified from The Revised Prayer-book of the Reformed Spanish Church, p. 39

 

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For Spiritual Illumination

Hear us,
never-fading Light, Lord our God,
our only Light, Fountain of light,
Light of your angels,
thrones, dominions, principalities, powers,
and of all intelligent beings.
You created the light of your saints.
May our souls be your lamps,
kindled and enlightened by you.
May they shine and burn with the truth,
and never go out in darkness and ashes.
May we be your house,
shining from you, shining in you.
May we shine without fail.
May we ever worship you.
In you may we be kindled and not be extinguished.
Being filled with the splendor
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
may we shine forth inwardly.
May the gloom of sins be cleared away,
and the light of constant faith abide within us.

Source: Mozarabic Sacramentary, 7th Century

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Middle Ages, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1954. (New Ancient Collects, #158)

 

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For Rightful Recognition of God, “The Giver of All Good Things”

O God,
by making the evening to follow the day
you have given the gift of rest for human weakness.
Grant that as we enjoy your timely blessings,
we may acknowledge you
from whom they come;
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Mozarabic Liturgy

Freely modified from Prayers of the Middle Ages, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953. The New Ancient Collects, #32

 

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For Love and Light

O Lord,
in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our God,
give us that love which can never cease,
that will kindle our lamps but not extinguish them,
that they may burn in us and enlighten others.

O Christ, our dearest Savior,
kindle our lamps,
that they may evermore shine in your temple,
that they may receive unquenchable light from you
that will enlighten our darkness,
and lessen the darkness of the world.

Lord Jesus, we pray,
give your light to our lamps,
that in its light
the most holy place may be revealed to us
in which you dwell as the Eternal Priest,
that we may always see you,
desire you, look on you in love,
and long after you;
for your sake. Amen.

Source: An Ancient Collect, sixth century

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

 

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St. Patrick’s Evensong

May your holy angels, O Christ, Son of living God,
Guard our sleep, our rest, our shining bed.

Let them reveal true visions to us in our sleep,
O High Prince of the universe, O great King of the mysteries!

May no demons, no ill, no calamity or terrifying dreams
Disturb our rest, our willing, prompt repose.

May our watch be holy, our work, our task,
Our sleep, our rest without stop, without break.

Source: St. Patrick’s Evensong, translated as prose by Kuno Meyer in Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry, New York, 1911.

Source of this version: Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church, © 2018, Paul C. Stratman

Version in verse:

Jesus, Son of God most high,
May your holy angels keep
Watch around us as we lie
In our shining beds asleep.

Time’s hid veil with truth to pierce
Let them teach our dreaming eyes,
High King of the Universe,
High Priest of the Mysteries.

May no demon of the air,
May no malice of our foes,
Evil dream or haunting care
Mar our willing, prompt repose!

May our vigils hallowed be
By the tasks we undertake!
May our sleep be fresh and free,
Without stop and without break.

St. Patrick’s Evensong, translated as poetry, from A Celtic PsalteryNew York, 1917.

 

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Evensong

Jesus, Son of God most high,
May your holy angels keep
Watch around us as we lie
In our shining beds asleep.

Time’s hid veil with truth to pierce
Let them teach our dreaming eyes,
High King of the Universe,
High Priest of the Mysteries.

May no demon of the air,
May no malice of our foes,
Evil dream or haunting care
Mar our willing, prompt repose!

May our vigils hallowed be
By the tasks we undertake!
May our sleep be fresh and free,
Without stop and without break.

Source: St. Patrick’s Evensong, from A Celtic Psaltery, New York, 1917.

 

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You Bestow the Gift of Rest

O God,
by making the evening to succeed the day,
you bestowed the gift of rest
on human weakness.
Grant that while we enjoy
these continuing gifts of your goodness,
we may trust and thank you
from whom they come;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Source: Mozarabic, 8th century, in Daily Prayer.

Daily Prayer’s version in traditional English:

O God, who by making the evening to succeed the day, hast bestowed the gift of repose on human weakness: Grant we beseech thee that while we enjoy these continuing gifts of thy goodness, we may trust and thank him from whom they come; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

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An Evening Thanksgiving

Accept our evening thanksgiving,
Fountain of every blessing,
for you have led us in safety through the length of the day.
You daily bless us with so many temporal mercies,
and have given us the hope of resurrection to eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Source: An Ancient Collect, fifth century

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

 

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An Evening Prayer

“O children, praise the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord.”
We praise you, we sing hymns to you,
we bless you, we glorify you,
O Lord and heavenly King,
almighty God and Father.
O Lord God, the Father of Christ
the immaculate Lamb,
you take away the sin of the world,
receive our prayer,
You are worthy of praise.
You are worthy of hymns.
You are worthy of glory,
God and Father, through your Son,
in the most holy Spirit,
forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Apostolic Constitutions

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

Some of this prayer is derived from the Gloria in Excelsis.

 

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