Featured Hymn for March29

“Sweet Hour of Prayer”

Sometimes during His earthly ministry, Jesus would withdraw to a secluded place to pray (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, etc.). The early church followed His practice of regular prayer (Acts 2:42), and Paul encouraged its continuance in some of his letters. He wrote, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2 ESV). This hymn is an expression of the joy that can come when believers, individually and corporately, pray regularly.


The author of this hymn is not known for certain. The text is often attributed to a man named W. W. Walford on the basis of an account in the New York Observer by Thomas Salmon in 1845, where the text was first published. This Walford was a blind, uneducated English preacher who had committed huge portions of the Bible to memory. Salmon would have met him between 1838 and 1842 while serving as pastor of a church in Coleshill, England. However, hymnologists have encountered problems in substantiating Walford's identity through church records, and some attribute the hymn to William Walford of Homerton, England, an educated Congregational minister, who was not blind. Traditionally, however, the hymn has been attributed to the blind preacher.


William Bradbury composed SWEET HOUR for this text in 1861 and published it in his Golden Chain. The tune was named after the text and is the only tune to which this hymn is sung. The tempo should not drag, and the accompaniment should be soft.


View this Featured Hymn at Hymnary.org.