Monday, June 27, 2016

Thomas Ken

Thomas Ken (1637—1711) is an English poet, best known for his hymns. He grew up in the home of his sister and her husband — the poet Izaak Walton — and was ordained an Anglican priest in 1662.

Thomas Ken served as royal chaplain to Charles II, and earned the king's respect by refusing to let the king's mistress stay in the chaplain's residence. This eventually led to his being appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1685. In this role he wrote the book Prayers for the Use of All Persons who Come to the Baths for Cure (1692).

Along with several other bishops, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1688 for refusing to sign the "Declaration of Indulgence" which James II, the next monarch, presented in support of Catholicism.

Thomas Ken's collected poetical works were published in four volumes in 1721, and the book — Bishop Ken's Christian Year: Or Hymns and Poems for the Holy Days and Festivals of the Church — appeared in 1868. His best known lyric comes at the end of the following hymn, sung around the world as "The Doxology."

Glory to Thee, My God This Night

Glory to thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light;
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath thy own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the awful day.

O may my soul on thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him, all creatures here below,
Praise him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.