Hymns and Our Stewardship of Time
Our God is sovereign over time. He holds the future with same perfection and certainty that He holds both present and past. He was in the beginning (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1) and He is “the Alpha and the Omega,” the One “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). He declares “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). In the opening verses of Psalm 90 Moses reflects on the sovereignty of God over time:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
God is above time, He created time, and He delights in taking time to make known His glory. At creation God did not speak the world into existence all at once. He took time to delight in the act of creating. For six days He worked and then rested on the seventh day. When God gave His Word, He did not give it all at once. He took time revealing His Word to prophets and apostles through many ages. And when Adam fell and God promised the coming Savior, the Seed of the women who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15), He did not send Him right away. God took time to prepare the way. Jesus came “at the right time” to die for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).
God is sovereign over time. He is intentional in crafting time for His own glory. And He calls on us to be good stewards of time. All our moments and days are gifts from Him. We are to value time and use the time we have wisely. Moses prays in Psalm 90:
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Many hymns speak of time. They teach us of God’s sovereignty over time and they encourage us to be wise in how we use our time. Here are some hymns that remind and exhort us to steward our time to the glory of God:
God’s Sovereignty over Time
Sovereign Ruler of the Skies (John Ryland, 1777)
1. Sovereign Ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.
3. He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree.
[A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship—William Gadsby, 1965 #64]
O God Our Help in Ages Past (Isaac Watts, 1719)
1. O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
3. Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
4. A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch the ends the night
Before the rising sun.
[Baptist Hymnal, 2008 #122]
Our Stewardship of Time
O Could I Find from Day to Day (Benjamin Cleavland, 1733–1811)
1. O could I find, from day to day,
A nearness to my God,
Then would my hours glide sweet away,
While leaning on His Word.
2. Lord, I desire with Thee to live
Anew from day to day,
In joys the world can never give,
Nor ever take away.
[The Baptist Psalmody, 1850 #656]
The Time Is Short (Joseph Hoskins, 1789)
2. The time is short, O who can tell
How short his time below may be?
Today on earth his soul may dwell,
Tomorrow in eternity.
3. The time is short; sinner, beware!
Nor squander these brief hours away;
O flee to Christ by faith and prayer
Ere yet shall close this fleeting day.
[Our Own Hymnbook—C.H. Spurgeon, 1866 #823]
Forever and Always (Words and Music ©2011 Kenneth A Puls and Rebecca Ascol Sissons)
1. Each moment is a treasure,
A present to employ,
Not chasing fleeting pleasures,
But finding lasting joy.
The truth that Christ is risen,
It changes everything;
My hopes, my dreams, my passions,
Now center on my King!
I live to serve my Savior,
Not just to seize the day;
But to lay hold of glory,
Forever—Forever and always!
The Value of Time for Daily Devotion
In 1674 Thomas Ken published A Manual of Prayer for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College. In the manual he mentioned three hymns he composed: one for morning, one for evening, and one for midnight. These hymns were included in the 1695 edition to assist the students in their daily devotions. Each hymn ended with the same verse—the verse we now know as the Doxology: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” The hymns are wonderful reminders to think of God through the day, to begin and end the day with prayer, and to be ever ready for the day of His coming.
Morning Hymn (Thomas Ken, 1695, text of 1709)
1. 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.
[Trinity Hymnal—Baptist edition, 1995 #331]
Evening Hymn (Thomas Ken, 1695, text of 1709)
1. All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light;
Keep me, O Keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.
[Trinity Hymnal—Baptist edition, 1995 #341]
Midnight Hymn (Thomas Ken, 1695, text of 1709)
1. May I always ready stand,
With my Lamp burning in my hand,
May I in sight of Heaven rejoice,
When e’er I hear the Bridegroom’s voice.
More Hymns to Begin the Day
A Prayer for God’s Presence Throughout the Day (Words ©2000 Kenneth A Puls)
1. Lord, as I begin to wake,
Just as I become aware,
Draw my waking thoughts to You;
Stir my heart to praise and prayer.
Then as I arise from sleep,
Stand to face another day,
Let Your Word be my delight,
Guiding all I do and say.
2. Help me, Lord to meditate
And apply the truth I know;
As I preach to my own soul,
Grant that I may heed and grow.
As I walk throughout this day,
Help me cast away all fear;
Let me not forget or doubt
Your abiding presence near.
Christ Be in My Waking (Steward Townsend and Simon Brading ©2011 ThankYou Music)
1. Christ be in my waking as the sun is rising
In my day of working, with me every hour
Christ be in my resting, as the day is ending
Coming and refreshing, watching through the night
Jesus, this is my devotion
All my life to know You
Everyday to walk with You
Savior, You’re my deepest longing
You’re the One I live for
Teach me, Lord, to walk with You
As the Sun Doth Daily Rise (Anon, Latin, translated by O.B.C., recast by Earl Nelson, 1864)
1. As the sun doth daily rise,
Bright’ning all the morning skies,
So to Thee with one accord
Lift we up our hearts, O Lord!
2. Day by day provide us food,
For from Thee come all things good;
Strength unto our souls afford,
From Thy living Bread, O Lord!
[Trinity Hymnal—Baptist edition, 1995 #329]
And More to Face the Night
Immanuel’s Land (Anne Ross Cousin, 1857, based on the Letters of Samuel Rutherford)
1. The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks,
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
4. With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love!
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that plann’d,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
[Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 2004 (Founders Press) #21]
Abide with Me (Henry F. Lyte, 1847)
1. Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Though cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
[Baptist Hymnal, 2008 #88]
Many more could be added to this list. What hymns encourage you to take time to worship God throughout the day?
Read more in the series Hymns and Doctrines