John Keble (1792 – 1866) was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, who gave his name to Keble College, Oxford. In 1827, while serving as an Oxford tutor and an Anglican curate, he penned The Christian Year, a series of poems for all the Sundays and some other feasts of the liturgical year of the Church of England. The book is the source for several hymns, and the work was extremely popular in the 19th century. As a result of this work, Keble was appointed to the Chair of Poetry at Oxford.
In 1833 his famous Assize Sermon on “national apostasy” gave the first impulse to the Oxford Movement, also known as the Tractarian movement. Along with his colleagues, including John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey, he became a leading light in the movement.
In 1835 he was appointed Vicar of Hursley, Hampshire, where he settled down to family life and remained for the rest of his life as a parish priest at All Saints Church. He was a profound influence on a near neighbour, the author Charlotte Mary Yonge.
Sun of My Soul
Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.
When the soft dews of kindly sleep
My wearied eyelids gently steep,
Be my last thought, how sweet to rest
Forever on my Savior’s breast.
Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without Thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.
If some poor wandering child of Thine
Has spurned today the voice divine,
Now, Lord, the gracious work begin;
Let him no more lie down in sin.
Watch by the sick, enrich the poor
With blessings from Thy boundless store;
Be every mourner’s sleep tonight,
Like infants’ slumbers, pure and right.
Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take,
Till in the ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in Heaven above.
Our Father in heaven,
We thank You for the life and ministry of John Keble. We humbly beseech You to raise up other poets within the Church of England, for the glory of Your name and the establishment of Your kingdom on earth. Amen.