Posted by: rcottrill | May 8, 2010

Today in 1689 – Christian Von Rosenroth Died

Christian Knorr von Rosenroth would likely be considered an unorthodox cultist today. He believed, among other things, that the Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah offered proofs of the doctrines of Christianity. But even though most of us would reject his eccentric beliefs, he created an insightful hymn that is worth a look.

Dayspring of Eternity seems to relate to the Bible’s description of Christ as: “the Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2), “the Dayspring from on high” (Lk. 1:78), and “the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16). I usually quote only part of the hymns I discuss in this blog, but I’m going to include the full hymn this time.

Dayspring of eternity!
Hide no more Thy radiant dawning!
Light from light’s exhaustless sea,
Shine on us afresh this morning!
And dispel with glorious might
All our night.

Let Thy mercies’ morning dew
Rouse our conscience from its blindness:
Gladden life’s dry plains anew
With the rivers of Thy kindness;
Water daily us Thy flock
From the rock.

Let the glow of love destroy
Cold obedience faintly given,
Wake our hearts to love and joy
With the flushing eastern heaven;
Let us truly rise ere yet
Life hath set.

Through this dark and tearful place
Never be Thy light denied us.
O Thou glorious Sun of grace,
To yon world of gladness guide us,
When to joys that never end
We ascend!

Ah! Thou Dayspring from on high
Grant that at Thy next appearing
We who in the graves do lie
May arise, Thy summons hearing,
And rejoice in our new life,
Far from strife.

Light us to those heavenly spheres,
Sun of grace, in glory shrouded;
Lead us through this vale of tears
To the land whose days unclouded,
Purest joy, and perfect peace
Never cease.

(2) Today in 1829 – Louis Gottschalk Born
Louis Moreau Gottschalk was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and died in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His father was English, his mother French. At the age of 6 he began the serious study of the violin, but later turned to the piano. When he was 12, he was taken to the Conservatoire in Paris, presenting himself for examination, but the judges refused to give the boy a hearing. A decade later, he was one of the judges! No less that Frederick Chopin predicted he would become “a king of pianists.”

Louis Gottschalk has given us the tune Mercy, from a piano piece he composed called The Last Hope. It is used with the hymns Softly Now the Light of Day, and Holy Ghost, with Light Divine. (The latter is called on the video clip below, Holy Spirit, Light Divine.)

Softly now the light of day
Fades upon my sight away;
Free from care, from labour free,
Lord, I would commune with Thee.

 (3) Have I Done My Best for Jesus (Data Missing)
What exactly is a hero? Certainly Edward Spencer would qualify. He was a student at Northwestern University in 1860, when a steamer called Lady Elgin was wrecked off the shores of Lake Michigan. Despite numerous injuries from floating wreckage, he repeatedly dashed into the raging surf to rescue passengers in mortal peril. Seeing his deteriorating condition, others tried to stop him, but on he went. He is credited with saving 18 people, one by one, finally collapsing in utter exhaustion. It is reported that, as he lay all night in the infirmary, he repeated over and over, “Did I do my best, fellows? Have I done my best?”

Spencer is honoured by a plaque in the gymnasium of Northwestern University. But there are a couple of sad footnotes to his story. He was so badly injured that apparently he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. And when visited in later years he said with tears, “Not one [of those rescued] ever came back and even said thank you.” Though he undoubtedly did not rescue them in order to earn their gratitude, it is a sad commentary on our frequent failure in this area.

In 1924 Ensign Edwin Young (1895-?) heard Spencer’s story and published a song that draws a spiritual lesson from the incident. (Ensign was not a title of rank, but was Young’s first name.) Young served as Dean of the School of Music at Hardin-Simmons University, in Texas 1934-1956. His song raises the penetrating question, Have I Done My Best for Jesus?

I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calv’ry!
I know my Lord expects the best from me.

I wonder, have I cared enough for others,
Or have I let them die alone?
I might have helped a wand’rer to the Saviour,
The seed of precious Life I might have sown.

The refrain heaps question upon question:

How many are the lost that I have lifted?
How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?
I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
When He has done so much for me?


  1. […] There is a very interesting story of this hymn over here. […]

    • Thanks for providing a link to my blog on Have I Done My Best for Jesus? (A penetrating and convicting question all believers should ask.)

  2. i was surprised to see the song i uploaded (Holy Spirit, Light Divine) in youtube was being utilized by your ministry, and i really appreciate that my little work has been a part of this…May God Bless us All!

    • Thanks Joenel. Other readers appreciate it too, when they can hear a hymn as well as read something about it, and its author. Over 43,000 people from all over the globe have visited Wordwise Hymns.

  3. Thanks for posting the hymn lyrics to “Have I Done My Best for Jesus?”

    Would you happen to know what tune it goes to?

    • The tune was written especially for it by a man named Harry Storrs. I’d be happy to send you a copy of the music, but the copyright was renewed in 1952, so it’s still under that restriction. You can find it in either of two hymn books I sometimes recommend, Living Hymns, or Great Hymns of the Faith. Both can be ordered from Amazon at a reasonable cost. Hope that’s a help. God bless.

  4. I used your write up on Edward Spencer for a page I constructed for my Burbankia website (my hometown of Burbank, CA). I hope this is okay. I linked it back here. If this is unacceptable to you let me know and I’ll remove the link and rewrite the citation…

    • It’s an amazing story, isn’t it? I got the background for the hymn from Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories (pp. 176-178). But you’ve added some other sources. Well done. No, there’s no problem quoting me, as long as you provide the link. Thanks for asking.

  5. […] 5. […]

  6. […] following is from Wordwise […]

    • Thanks for using some material from my blog, and I appreciate you crediting me. Edward Spencer’s courage is quite amazing. God bless.


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