God of the prophets! Bless the prophets' sons

Full Text

1 God of the prophets! Bless the prophets' sons:
Elijah's mantle o'er Elisha cast;
Each age its solemn task may claim but once;
Make each one nobler, stronger than the last!

2 Anoint them prophets! Make their ears attend
To Thy divinest speech; their hearts awake
To human need; their lips make eloquent
To assure the right, and every evil break.

3 Anoint them priests! Strong intercessors they
For pardon, and for charity and peace!
Ah, if with them the world might pass, astray,
Into the dear Christ's life of sacrifice!

4 Anoint them kings! Aye, kingly kings, O Lord!
Anoint them with the Spirit of Thy Son:
Theirs, not a jewelled crown, a blood-stained sword;
Theirs, by sweet love, for Christ a kingdom won.

5 Make them apostles! Heralds of Thy cross,
Forth may they go to tell all realms Thy grace:
Inspired of Thee, may they count all but loss,
And stand at last with joy before Thy face.

6 O mighty age of prophet-kings, return!
O truth, O faith, enrich our urgent time!
Lord Jesus Christ, again with us sojourn:
A weary world awaits Thy reign sublime!


The Hymnal: revised and enlarged as adopted by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America in the year of our Lord 1892

Author: Denis Wortman

(no biographical information available about Denis Wortman.) Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 1 = 2 Kings 2:8-14
st. 3 = 1 Pet. 2:5,9
st. 5 = Rom. 1:1-6

Denis Wortman (b. Hopewell, NY, 1835; d. East Orange, NJ, 1922) wrote the poem "God of the Prophets! Bless the Prophets' Sons" in 1884 for the one-hundredth anniversary of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, from which he had graduated in 1860. Wortman entitled his poem "Prayer for Young Ministers" and sent it with the following note to the seminary:

May I take the liberty of sending you the enclosed verses; a very humble attempt
to express the prayer that our Class of 1860, and indeed all loyal sons of New Brunswick Seminary, lift to God at this unusual anniversary, for his blessing upon her and all who go forth from her instructions.

Also educated at Amherst College, Wortman served a number of Reformed Church in America congregations, mainly in New York State. He was the denomination's secretary of ministerial relief from 1901 to 1922 and served as president of General synod in 190 I. His publications include Reliques of Christ (1888), The Divine Processional (1903), and this one hymn text.

His hymn text was first published in the Episcopal Church Hymnal (1892) in six stanzas. Of those, stanzas 1-2 and 4-5 are retained with many revisions. Carl P. Daw,Jr. (PHH 193), wrote the third stanza in 1981 for The Hymnal 1982.

All the stanzas were originally cast in third person ("Anoint them") since the hymn was written for clergymen; the revised text in first person ("Anoint us") now includes all God's people as ministers or servants. The text refers to various biblical offices to depict Christian ministries: prophets, priests, kings (all Old Testament offices), and apostles (the only New Testament office mentioned in this text).

Liturgical Use:
Renewal services; for commissioning the entire congregation at the beginning of a church season; for an ordination service one or several of the middle stanzas could be sung in the older form–“Anoint them prophets…”

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



TOULAN was originally an adaptation of the Genevan Psalter melody for Psalm 124 (124). In one melodic variant or another and with squared-off rhythms, the tune was used in English and Scottish psalters for various psalm texts. It was published in the United States in its four-line abridged form (cal…

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GENEVAN 124 (also known as OLD 124TH) was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter. Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized the tune in 1985. One of the best known from the Genevan Psalter, the tune is published in most North American hymnals. By 1564 it was adopted in English and Scott…

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