In anticipation of Memorial Day, the hymn tune playing from the Goddard Chapel carillon this month is God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand.
While the hymn was written to describe the United States, its message petitioning for grace in both one’s physical and spiritual lives is a universal one that can resonate with each of us.
The text was written by Daniel C. Roberts, a priest in the Episcopal Church. He wrote the text in 1876 to commemorate the United States Centennial. In 1892, he submitted his work to be considered for a revision of the Episcopal hymnal. He submitted the hymn anonymously, stating that he would give his name if the hymn was selected for the new hymnal, which it was.
The hymn was originally sung to the tune Russian Hymn (composed by Aleksei Federovich L’vov). However, when Roberts submitted his hymn, the editor of the new hymnal, George W. Warren, decided to use it as a celebration of the Centennial of the United States Constitution. As his contribution, Warren wrote a new tune specifically for Roberts’s hymn. Warren is the composer of over a dozen well-known hymn tunes. He was a highly respected organist and choir director who spent most of his professional life as the organist at St. Thomas’s Church in New York City. At his funeral, no music was played, as the mourners felt that a finer organist than Warren could not be found.
God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
2. Thy love divine hath led us in the past;
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast.
Be thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide, and Stay,
Thy word our law, Thy path our chosen way.
3. From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever-sure defense.
Thy true religion in our hearts increase.
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
4. Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.