Early Church Hymns: O Light That Knew No Dawn

He was one of the “Great Cappadocians” – theologians who made tremendous contributions to the development of Christian theology (particularly regarding the Trinity). He was also a bishop of Constantinople during the fourth century.


But Gregory of Nazianzus was also a prolific poet. This is an English translation of his hymn, O Light That Knew No Dawn



O Light that knew no dawn,
That shines to endless day,
All things in earth and Heav’n
Are lustered by Thy ray;
No eye can to Thy throne ascend,
Nor mind Thy brightness comprehend.

Thy grace, O Father, give,
That I might serve in fear;
Above all boons, I pray,
Grant me Thy voice to hear;
From sin Thy child in mercy free,
And let me dwell in light with Thee.

That, cleansed from stain of sin,
I may meet homage give;
And pure in heart, behold
Thy beauty while I live;
Clean hands in holy worship raise,
And Thee, O Christ my Savior, praise.

In supplication meek
To Thee I bend the knee;
O Christ, when Thou shalt come,
In love remember me,
And in Thy kingdom, by Thy grace,
Grant me a humble servant’s place.

Thy grace, O Father, give,
I humbly Thee implore;
And let Thy mercy bless
Thy servant more and more.
All grace and glory be to Thee,
From age to age eternally.


6 thoughts on “Early Church Hymns: O Light That Knew No Dawn

  1. We sing this hymn in our church about 2x a year. It takes our folks farther and deeper into the glorious mystery of the Trinity and incarnation.

    You post was just a great encouragement to my heart. Thanks.

  2. This is one of the many reasons I advocate a “marriage” between the liturgy, culture, and arts of the high church, with the bible study/preaching, and personal piety of the “low church.” When many today feel like they lack an identity and Christianity capitulates to culture, the classical heritage of the church can be a potent and needed antidote.

    • There are certainly positives contributions of both. One of the strengths of evangelical Christianity has been its emphasis on the individual. One of its weakness has been the individualistic spirit that separates us by time and space from our rich Christian history. Reminders of our “classical heritage” are certainly helpful in changing that mindset.

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