Now, when the dusky shades of night, retreating
Before the sun’s red banner, swiftly flee;
Now, when the terrors of the dark are fleeting,
O Lord, we lift our thankful hearts to Thee.
To Thee, whose Word, the fount of light unsealing,
When hill and dale in thickest darkness lay,
Awoke bright rays across the dim earth stealing,
And bade the even and morn complete the day.
Look from the tower of Heaven, and send to cheer us,
Thy light and truth, to guide us onward still;
Still let Thy mercy, as of old, be near us,
And lead us safely to Thy holy hill.
In vain to labor, unless Thou be with him,
Man goeth forth through all the weary day;
In vain his strife, in vain his toil unceasing,
Unless Thy staff bring comfort on his way.
Thou, who hast made the north and south, watch o’er us;
Thou, in whose name the lonely ones rejoice,
Still let Thy cloudy pillar glide before us,
Still let us listen for Thy warning voice.
So, when the morn of endless light is waking,
And shades of evil from its splendors flee,
Safe may we rise, the earth’s dark breast forsaking,
Through all the long bright day to dwell with Thee.
Words: Attr. Pope St. Gregory the Great (I), 6th Century; tr. anonymous, 19th century.
Tune: “Laus Matutina” John Stainer, 1872.
Here is the original Latin text:
Ecce iam noctis tenuatur umbra
lucis aurora rutilans coruscat;
nisibus totis rogitemus omnes cunctipotentem,
Ut Deus, nostri miseratus, omnem
pellat angorem, tribuat salutem,
donet et nobis pietate patris regna polorum.
Praestet hoc nobis Deitas beata
Patris ac Nati, pariterque Sancti
Spiritus, cuius resonat per omnem gloria mundum. Amen.