Among the collection of Anglican hymnody stand not a few songs designated for times of day – Morning and Evening. One of these hymns, lyrics by Thomas Ken in the 1600’s and early 1700’s, is often printed as having two parts of four verses each.
Part one begins:
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
It continues to address the self through the other three stanzas, bestirring the singer(s) to virtuous living and and attentively religious life before God throughout the coming day.
Part two begins:
All praise to thee, who safe hast kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept;
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless light partake.
This part of the hymn continues to address God in prayer, asking for the grace and strength to carry out that virtuous life considered in part one.
Both considered separately and as a single unit, this two-part hymn can teach us a lot about worship and song. There are times in worship when we address ourselves. The officiant or celebrant engages in dialogue with the congregation, song Psalms and hymns and other songs are verbally directed at the worshiper rather than the Worshiped One. This is not narcissistic in itself, as traditionalists sometimes accuse contemporary Christian music as being. Biblically and traditionally there is a place for such self-address.
This two-part hymn also shows how one might move from self-address to doxology (praise of God). The same subjects are approached in each half of the hymn. It’s not slavishly mirrored between parts one and two, but clear parallels can be drawn. The final stanza is even the Doxology “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” which many people only know on its own. In reality it’s a common stanza employed by several hymns to bring a song of praise to a fitting end. (So maybe if your church always sings that verse at the offering of the offertory gifts… consider stopping that. The verse deserves so much more!)
Perhaps you could pull this out to spruce up Morning Prayer sometime. Try singing part one one day, and part two the next day. Or both parts at different points in the liturgy! Or both parts all at once, if you’ve got the stamina for it!