The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns

The King shall come, when morning dawns
and light triumphant breaks, 
when beauty gilds the eastern hills
and life to joy awakes.

2. He who was born a little child
to suffer and to die
shall come with glory, like the sun
that lights the morning sky.

3. Far brighter than the rising morn
when he, victorious, rose
and left the lonesome place of death,
despite the rage of foes;

4. Far brighter than that glorious morn
shall this fair morning be,
when Christ our King in beauty comes,
and we his face shall see!

5. The King shall come, when morning dawns
and light and beauty brings,
Hail, Christ the Lord! Your people pray,
‘Come quickly, King of Kings… King of Kings’

Greek: Anon. Trans: John Brownlie 1857-1923 Praise! Version, adapted by David Rowbory.

Piano + 3 voices
Instrumental only
Sheet music for
The King Shall Come when morning dawns
with accompaniment and introduction

Sheet Music

Singalong version on Youtube. Or download the m4v here.

About this song and the tune

This has become something of a family favourite. Great in times of sorrow and struggle, or at advent.

Leafing through Praise! this family of Tolkien fans we were struck by the evocative Lord-of-the-Rings-style imagery in this (translated) early Greek hymn. The best stories often echo God’s story, and so it’s not surprising that The Return of the King should be a significant longing and theme for Tolkien. But in God’s story we see a greater fulfilment of that longing; a greater king coming.

Unfortunately the tune wasn’t a particularly inspiring match for these words. We needed something just a little more cinematic or exciting at least, we thought. So here came this tune. If it helps you romp through the hymn too quickly then just sing it twice. And as John Brownlie himself wrote – if you have any complaints about it, then try something yourself. After all, the evocative ability of tunes is significantly more fleeting than words. Today’s stirring anthem is tomorrow’s mournful dirge; so be it.

Can I record a version?

Yes please.

Either record your full version and send it to hymns@m.rowbory.co.uk if you’d like to share it with us or else if you’d like to contribute to the distributed hymn sing, download our recording as a backing track, record your voice (or instruments) and send us that. (Here’s a shared folder of sheet music, mp3 and video with words.)

Where was the hymn from?

Mysteriously, the original of this ‘anonymous Greek’ hymn hasn’t been found, leading some to wonder whether Glaswegian classicist John Brownlie actually composed this as a conglomeration of themes from Greek hymns. It doesn’t really matter. Brownlie seems to have come across a good selection of Greek hymns used in the Eastern Orthodox church, appreciated their worth and beauty and translated them capably and artfully into decent English verse:

This sixth series of hymns from the Greek Offices is sent forth in the hope that some of the flowers that bloom in the gardens of the East, in which our Lord prayed and His Apostles tilled, may serve to beautify the homes of the faithful in Western lands. Cut flowers lose their beauty and freshness soon, but not infrequently their perfume remains; and roots transplanted do not always continue to put forth leaves and blossoms in that richness which adorns them in their native soil; but if in the case of the culled flowers, which are here presented, some of their perfume may chance to linger, it will probably serve to suggest their original attractiveness. That they may, in some capacity, be used to adorn the worship of Christ in our sterner clime, is the earnest prayer of the translator. 

John Brownlie’s 1911 preface to Hymns from Morningland

Another version

1 The King shall come when morning dawns
and light triumphant breaks,
when beauty gilds the eastern hills,
and life to joy awakes.

2 Not as of old a little child
to bear, and fight, and die,
but crowned with glory like the sun
that lights the morning sky.

3 O brighter than the rising morn
when He, victorious, rose
and left the lonesome place of death,
despite the rage of foes.

4 O brighter than that glorious morn
shall this fair morning be,
when Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
and we His face shall see.

5 The King shall come when morning dawns,
and earth’s dark night is past:
O haste the rising of that morn,
the day that aye shall last.

6 And let the endless bliss begin,
by weary saints foretold,
when right shall triumph over wrong,
and truth shall be extolled.

7 The King shall come when morning dawns,
and light and beauty brings;
“Hail, Christ the Lord!” Thy people pray,
come quickly, King of kings!