Ambrose was a Roman citizen, born to an official in Gaul. In Rome, he studied literature, law and rhetoric. He served as a governor in northern Italy, before being appointed as bishop of Milan in 374. Ambrose was bishop in Milan at the time of Augustine’s conversion, and he is referred to in Augustine’s Confessions. He became a noted theologian and battled Arian heresy. He wrote many books, as well as several hymns. One of these is O Splendour of God’s Glory Bright.
O splendour of God’s glory bright,
O Thou that bringest light from light;
O Light of light, light’s living spring,
O day, all days illumining.
O Thou true Sun, on us Thy glance
Let fall in royal radiance;
The Spirit’s sanctifying beam
Upon our earthly senses stream.
All laud to God the Father be;
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the holy Paraclete.
The hymn Keep Us, O Lord, This Day (in Latin, known originally as Iam Lucis Orto Sidere) is also attributed by many to Ambrose. Though we can’t be certain he wrote it, it does date from his era. The words have since been translated into English a number of times. It’s a beautiful morning song, a commitment to start the day with prayer, such as David describes: “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (Ps. 5:3).
Now that the sun is beaming bright,
Once more to God we pray,
That He, the uncreated Light,
May guide our souls this day.
No sinful word, nor deed of wrong,
Nor thoughts that idly rove;
But simple truth be on our tongue,
And in our hearts be love.
And while the hours in order flow,
O Christ, securely fence
Our gates beleaguered by the foe,
The gave of every sense.
And grant that to Thine honour, Lord,
Our daily toil may tend;
That we begin it at Thy Word,
And in Thy favour end.
(2) Today in 1862 – Ernest Shurtleff Born
Young people today are searching for heroes, looking for those who can give their lives direction and purpose. It was no different in 1887, when a group of eager young men were looking forward to graduating from seminary. They had already committed themselves to following the Lord, and had spent several years in preparation for ministry. Now, as Graduation Day approached, they asked a class member if he would compose a hymn expressing their desire to follow Christ. Ernest Warburton Shurtleff did just that, and the result is the stirring hymn, Lead On, O King Eternal. Though written for the students, it has a wide application to every child of God.
Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King eternal,
We lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted over us,
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.