Year B – Proper 17 – The Day is Past and Gone

The Day is Past and Gone is beautiful traditional song. It is set as an “evening hymn” which is usually a kind of prayer for safety through the night, remembering that the “night of death draws near.” Even so, “may we in thy bosom rest, Thy bosom of thy love.”

The author was a Baptist Pastor named John Leland (1754-1841). Note the dates of his ministry in the midst of important times for America. In the autumn of 1774, he united with the Bellingham Baptist church, from which he received a license to preach. In October, 1775, he went to Virginia, where he was ordained. By the end of his life he had preached more than 3000 sermons and baptized more than 1352 people!

This hymn made its way into the hearts of many people. A woman in Vicksburg, Miss.recorded this in a diary kept during the siege of Vicksburg (June 5, 1863) when [Yankee] cannon fire struck her house. “The candles were useless in the dense smoke, and it was many minutes before we could see. . . I think this house, so large and prominent from the river, is perhaps taken for headquarters, and specially shelled. As we descend at night to the lower regions, I think of the evening hymn that grandmother taught me when a child: ‘Lord, keep us safe this night,  Secure from all our fears;  May angels guard us while we sleep,  Till morning light appears.'”

The day is past and gone
The evening shade appears
Oh, may we all remember well
The night of death draws near

We’ll lay our garments by
And on our beds we rest
So death will soon disrobe us all
Of what we here posess

Lord, keep us safe this night
Secure from all our fears
May angels guard us while we sleep
Till morning light appears

And when the early light
In view they onwards home
May we press on to reach thee, Christ
And after glory run

And when our days are past
And we from time remove
Oh, may we in thy bosom rest
Thy bosom of thy love

Here are some New St. Andrews College students singing this:

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