Hymn Study: God Of our Fathers

Here's an hymn that is oft sung in our church.   It is a hymn written to help celebrate a national holiday but speaks much to God's care for his people and our thankfulness to him for all he leads us through.

 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.

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 paths our chosen way.

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.

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.

This hymn was written by Daniel C. Roberts and put to music by George William Warren.

The history to this hymn:

This hymn is a 19th century hymn written to commemorate the 100th year celebration of the  United States Declaration of Independence in 1876.  At that time Roberts was the rector in a small town in Vermont and he wrote it to help his town celebrate Independence Day.  At that time it was sung to the tune "Russian Hymn". 

Later he was invited to submit his hymn for inclusion in Episcopal Church hymnal on which Mr. Warren was a committee member.   He was the organist for the celebrations of the 100 years since adopting the Constitution.  The committee wanted to use the song for their celebrations but didn't want to use a tune called "Russian hymn" so Mr. Warren wrote a new tune called "National Hymn".

Ever since that 100 year celebration this hymn has become widely known and is included in many hymnals.

Scripture associated with this hymn is Psalm 46:7 where we read
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Center for Church Music.

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