Chances are, this is going to be an unfamiliar hymn for you. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung at a church meeting; my only prior exposure to it was when I plowed through the hymn book, determined to play each hymn therein. And, besides the recordings available on lds.org, there is a grand total of one cover of this on YouTube*, but I’m so glad to have run across it. It’s reverent, sweet, calming. Please give it a listen, and then look at the lyrics again.
Here are the lyrics, written by William W. Phelps.
Come, let us sing an evening hymn
To calm our minds for rest,
And each one try, with single eye,
To praise the Savior best.
Yea, let us sing a sacred song
To close the passing day,
With one accord call on the Lord
And ever watch and pray.
Oh, thank the Lord for grace and gifts
Renewed in latter days,
For truth and light to guide us right
In wisdom’s pleasant ways,
For ev’ry line we have received
To turn our hearts above,
For ev’ry word and ev’ry good
That fill our souls with love.
Oh, let us raise a holier strain
For blessings great as ours,
And be prepared while angels guard
Us through our slumb’ring hours.
Oh, may we sleep and wake in joy,
While life with us remains,
And then go home beyond the tomb,
Where peace forever reigns.
I am immediately reminded of what the Lord told Emma Smith in D&C 25:11-12. “[M]ake a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”
This isn’t simply an evening hymn; it is an evening prayer. Is it any wonder, then, with this bit of counsel from the Lord in mind, that Emma included this hymn in her first hymn book?
This is a 1922 painting by Norman Rockwell, called The Stuff of Which Memories Are Made.
Just as you likely haven’t heard “Come, Let Us Sing an Evening Hymn” before, you probably haven’t seen this particular painting much either; it’s in George Lucas’ private collection. In any case, I invite you to look at the scene Rockwell presents to us, and ponder the title he gave it—the stuff of which memories are made.
A simple scene: a mother guiding her three children in evening prayer. “Come, let us sing an evening hymn to calm our minds for rest.” Small moments like these add up to have a profound impact on children; as Alma explained to his son Helaman, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
As a bonus treat, here are two other tunes the Saints historically sang with this hymn. The first is supposedly the earlier used tune, borrowed from greater Christianity; the second was written by Thomas C. Griggs and included in the 1889 Latter-day Saint Psalmody. Enjoy!
*Though technically there are two now, since I convinced my husband to sing it for you.
Jenna Dilts is a mother of three pre-school-aged children. She has pink, blue and purple hair and dressed up as a My Little Pony for Halloween this year, because it was the right thing to do. Last year she led a discussion of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles on the AO forum. You can find her blogging at To Work Wonders, where she is currently working through AO year 1 for herself.