I was singing the hymn Oh God Our Hope in Ages Past today in Church, and noticed something interesting.

The fifth verse reads as follows:

Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all who breathe away; 
they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.

Now I had always half-jokingly assumed this was some sports reference, as "opening day" to me means the first day of the season for an athletic league. However, I noticed that the words here are credited to Isaac Watts in the early 1700's. This is before any organized sporting leagues I know of.

Given that, I'm at a loss. What the heck is he getting when he says "opening day" here?


It means "Dawn", quite simply, with an elided "of the" to keep the rhythm.

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    I don't think it's necessary to say anything is elided: There verse alludes to someone who's been sitting all night dreaming away, but whose dreams fade as they witness "the opening day" - the onset of dawn - "opening" here is an adjective. – user2590 Sep 22 '13 at 19:17
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    @Vector: To a native English speaker, yes; to others who happen by, I thought the elision mention might help. – Pieter Geerkens Sep 22 '13 at 19:21
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    OK - although I doubt if a non-native English speaker would know what "elided" means... I had to look it up myself :-) Maybe change to "omitted" or "dropped"? – user2590 Sep 22 '13 at 19:24
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    Do more crosswords. ;-) – Pieter Geerkens Sep 22 '13 at 19:24
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    @Vector: It is a word that has been in my natural vocabulary for over 30 years. (32 to be precise.) As it is not at all affected when I use it, the current wording will stand. Everyone is assumed here to learn, so if an occasional dictionary lookup is required, so much the better. – Pieter Geerkens Sep 22 '13 at 19:27

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