It began with Phos Hilaron, an ancient hymn that was first written in Greek dating back to the 4th century. Sometimes translated, “Oh Gladdening Light,” it is said to be the oldest Christian hymn that is still being sung today. Sometimes it is used as a liturgical prayer at vespers (evening prayer which also marks the beginning of a new liturgical day). It is one of my favorite prayers, and is included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer as “O Gracious Light.” Not long ago I saw the prayer posted along with a photo of a beautiful sunset on Penelope Nash’s blog, One Cannot Have Too Large a Party. I thought my friend David Brazzeal, who has a blog on prayer, would appreciate it, so I forwarded it to him.
David featured the post on his blog, Pray Like a Gourmet, and issued a challenge to his readers to select a photo taken while on vacation and to compose a prayer to go with the picture. I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I took two of my favorite photos, spent some time with them, and came up with a prayer for each one. You can see one of them on David’s blog here. To see his “post-vacation challenge” blog post, with information about how you can participate, go here.
Here is the prayer as found in the Book of Common Prayer:
O Gracious Light (Phos hilaron)
O gracious light,
pure brightness of the ever living Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.
Photo: Sunset over Lake Bolsena
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons