Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only Light, Sun of Righteousness, arise, Triumph o’er the shades of night; Dayspring from on high, be near; Day-star, in my heart appear. (Charles Wesley 1779)
The verses of this Charles Wesley hymn contain some of the first glimmers of Christ-light that stirred my heart. Because the words were in the hymnal I grew up with, they were not unfamiliar. But after my conversion experience, they resonated with me and moved me in a very different way. Whenever I see the first pinks and oranges of the morning sunrise, I think of this hymn.
Then I watch as Christ’s brightness and beauty “fill the skies”—in the same way that his “true” and “only light” is always filling my heart. The Lord is always present, always triumphing over the “the shades of night,” the many fears that roll over all of us in our sometimes precarious and often undependable lives.
Wesley is probably also referring to the “day star” or “morning star” that we read about in 2 Peter. As it says there, the Lord “rises” in our hearts like “a light shining in a dark place” (NIV 2 Peter 1:19). Christ’s light pushes back the darkness of loss and loneliness, opening our consciousness to his bright shining glory.
But the light of the Lord’s presence isn’t just within us. Wesley says it is a “day spring” that is always near us. If we think of Christ only as shining in our hearts, we might think we’re left to confront the world alone. But the living Saviour is truly walking and standing right beside us. He knows our need and our uncertainty. He knows what is tempting us and what is scaring us. The Lord “from on high” is always “near,” comforting and sustaining our continuing life.