God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand

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1 God of the ages, 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 with thee our lot is cast;
be thou our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay,
thy Word our law, thy paths 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.

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

Author: Daniel C. Roberts

Roberts, Daniel C., D.D., of the Prot. Episcopal Church in America, b. at Bridge Hampton, L.I., Nov. 5, 1841, and graduated at Gambler College, 1857. After serving for a time as a private in the Civil War, he was ordained in 1866. He is at present (1905) Rector of Concord, N.H. His hymn, "God of our fathers, Whose almighty hand " (National Hymn), was written in 1876 for the "Centennial" Fourth of July celebration at Brandon, Vermont. In 1892 it was included in the Protestant Episcopal Hymnal, and again in Sursum Corda, 1898. [Rev. L. F. Benson, D.D.] --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)  Go to person page >

Notes

Scripture References:
st. 3 = Ps. 46:1

Daniel C. Roberts (b. Bridgehampton, Long Island, NY, 1841; d. Concord, NH, 1907) wrote this patriotic hymn in 1876 for July 4 centennial celebrations in Brandon, Vermont, where he was rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Originally entitled "God of Our Fathers," this text was later chosen as the theme hymn for the centennial celebration of the adoption of the United States Constitution. It was published in the Protestant Episcopal Hymnal of 1892.

Educated at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, Roberts served in the union army during the Civil War. He was ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest in 1866 and ministered to several congregations in Vermont and Massachusetts. In 1878 he began a ministry at St. Paul Church in Concord, New Hampshire, that lasted for twenty-three years. For many years president of the New Hampshire State Historical Society, Roberts once wrote, "I remain a country parson, known only within my small world," but his hymn "God of Our Fathers" brought him widespread recognition.

Unlike many other nationalist hymns, this text keeps our focus on God. This is a Go who created the universe, who leads and governs his people, who serves as our protector, and who refreshes his people with divine love. Presumably the text referred originally to white Anglo-Saxons, but in its present form it is fitting for all citizens and residents of any country. Christians too may sing this anthem, using it to recognize the national association we have on earth but remembering that the practice of "true religion" (st. 3) transcends earthly loyalties and promotes citizenship in the kingdom of heaven.

Liturgical Use:
Worship that focuses on God's reign over the nations; civic celebrations.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987

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