My favorite New Year’s hymn is Frances Ridley Havergal’s “Another Year Is Dawning.” Like many of Frances’s hymns, this one is a wonderful declaration of Christian consecration to living for the Lord.
Frances Havergal (1836-1879) was an English poet and hymnwriter. Many of her poems and hymns emphasized devotional closeness to Christ and dedicated service of Him. Those were primary emphases Frances sought to cultivate in her own life and to promote to other believers.
Such consecration is clearly seen in her best-known hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” as well as in some of her other well-known songs: “Lord, Speak to Me,” “I Gave My Life for Thee” and “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?”
Each New Year’s Day Frances reconsecrated herself to living for Jesus. As a result, she wrote several New Year’s hymns, “Another Year Is Dawning” being the most popular of those. She composed this particular poem near the end of 1873 as a prayer for New Year’s 1874. She had it printed on a greeting card to be sent to friends. The card’s caption read, “A Happy New Year! Ever Such May It Be!”
As circumstances turned out, Frances herself ended up needing this prayer, for just a few days later she experienced a stunning setback. She was looking forward to being launched as an author in America, and her agent in New York had made reassuring promises. Then a letter came which she thought would bring a royalty check, perhaps the first of many. It instead brought the intelligence that her publisher had gone bankrupt in the Stock Market crash of 1873.
Frances had only recently entrusted all her affairs to the Lord. As a result, she was able to bear this sudden reversal of her prospects with peace. She wrote of this to a friend:
“I have just had such a blessing in the shape of what would have been only two months ago a really bitter blow to me. … I was expecting a letter from America, enclosing thirty-five pounds now due me, and possibly news that [my book] was going on like steam. The letter has come and, instead of all this, my publisher has failed in the universal crash. He holds my written promise to publish only with him as the condition of his launching me, so this is not simply a little loss, but an end of all my American prospects. …
“I really had not expected that He [God] would do for me so much above all I asked [Ephesians 3:20], as not merely to help me to acquiesce in this, but positively not to feel it at all, and only to rejoice in it as a clear test of the reality of victorious faith which I do find brightening almost daily. Two months ago this would have been a real trial to me, for I had built a good deal on my American prospects; now ‘Thy will be done’ is not a sigh but only a song.”
By God’s grace working in her life, on this occasion Frances certainly lived up to the sincere consecrated sentiments she had not long before penned in “Another Year Is Dawning.”
Whether or not you are familiar with this hymn, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes contemplating and perhaps even singing it. (It is set to the tune of another well-known hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation.”) May the Lord help all of us to live lives that are deeply devoted to Him in the coming year.
“Another Year Is Dawning”
1. Another year is dawning: Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting, Another year with Thee;
Another year of Progress, Another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
2. Another year of mercies, Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning Upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, Of quiet, happy rest.
3. Another year of service, Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training For holier work above.
Another year is dawning: Dear Father, let it be,
On earth or else in heaven, Another year for Thee.
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Much of the information for this Perspective was gleaned from Robert Morgan’s uplifting book Then Sings My Soul, 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories (Thomas Nelson, 2003).
If you have enjoyed and benefited from this blog post, I would sincerely appreciate your sharing it with your friends and acquaintances who could likewise profit from it.
Copyright 2020 by Vance E. Christie
Thank you for this enlightening blog. Havergal was my organist father’s favourite hymn-writers. And she is high on my list too!
Here is a New Year’s Song I wrote which you many enjoy:
15b THE NEW YEAR HYMN
Jesus, Lord of human history,
Open wide this New Year’s door;
Lead us into future’s mystery
As you led your Church before.
Christ, the Alpha and Omega,
Lord of time, eternity,
God unchanging, ever eager,
Leading on to what must be.
Jesus, man of human sorrows,
You have passed
through death’s dark hour.
Give us hope for our tomorrows
By your resurrection power.
Give us cause for celebrations:
Bring the Year of Jubilee!
Show compassion to the nations,
Break the chains of poverty.
Jesus, crux of human choices,
Urging multitudes to say,
From among religions’ voices
That you are the only Way.
Nations lose their moral bearing,
There is no integrity;
May we all, with love and daring,
Live the Truth that sets us free.
Jesus, goal of human story,
Focus of the Father’s plans,
When You are revealed in glory
And the world before you stands ~
Then in greater celebration
All the universe will sing:
“You are head of all creation,
Sovereign Lord, Almighty King!”
Words: Hugh G Wetmore (c) September 1998 as “The Millennium Hymn”,
adapted as a New Year’s Hymn 2003 Metre: 8787D
Tunes: Ode to Joy (Joyful, joyful we adore Thee) CD 10.13
Austria (Glorious things …) CD 9.14
Chosen for publication as one of the 44 songs (out of over 400) in the ‘St Pauls Cathedral Millennium Hymn Competition’ 1999. (Publication subsequently cancelled for copyright reasons)
This Millennium Hymn was sung throughout South Africa in Richard Cock’s “Songs of Praise” participatory concerts in 2000. Listen to it on CD ~ SARCD 074 (SAfm, SAMRO and Sarepta)
Thanks, Hugh, for sharing your own significant New Year hymn. What wonderful, Christ-exalting lyrics. I see it is sung to the tune off “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” May the Lord greatly exalt Himself and bless you and many others in the use of your poetic gift. May your tribe increase! -VEC