Captain of Israel's host, and Guide

Representative Text

1 Captain of Israel's host, and guide
of all who seek the land above,
beneath your shadow we abide,
the cloud of your protecting love;
our strength, your grace; our rule, your word:
our end, the glory of the Lord.

2 By your unerring Spirit led,
we shall not in the desert stray;
we shall not full direction need,
nor miss our providential way;
as far from danger as from fear
while love, almighty love, is near.

Source: Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #574

Author: Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley, M.A. was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family, perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn-writer of all ages. Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and was born at Epworth Rectory, Dec. 18, 1707. In 1716 he went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King's Scholar, and as such received his board and education free. In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepene… Go to person page >

Notes

Captain of Israel's host and Guide. C. Wesley. [The Divine Guide.] First published in his Short Hymns, &c, 1762, vol. i., No. 133, in 2 stanzas of 6 lines, and based on Ex. xiii. 21, "The Lord went before them by day in a Pillar of a Cloud, &c." In 1780 it was included, with alterations, in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, No. 317. It is found in a large number of hymnals, but in every case with alterations of stanza ii., lines 3-4. The original stanza reads:—
By Thine unerring Spirit led, We shall not in the desert stray, The light of man's direction need, Or miss our providential way. As far from danger as from fear, While Love, Almighty Love, is near.
The alterations which have been made in lines 3-4 are many. The most important are:— 1. By J. Wesley, in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1780-1875:—
"We shall not full direction need, Nor miss our providential way."
Dr. Osborn observes (Poetical Works, vol. ix. p. 43): "In 1780, Wesley altered the line so as to express assured confidence, without seeming to assert an independence of human help, ‘We shall not full direction need.' "This reading is generally followed by the Methodist collections. 2. In Bickersteth's Christian Psalmody, 1833, these lines read:—
By Thee with heavenly manna fed, We shall not lack in all our way.
3. In the Mitre Hymnbook, 1836, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Psalms and Hymns, 1852, and later editions, this was changed to:—
By Thy paternal bounty fed, We shall not lack in all our way.
This has been repeated in a few collections, as in Thring's, 1882, No. 266. Mr. Thring has also added a doxology. 4. In Conder's Congregational Hymn Book, 1836, and several later hymnals, it is again altered:—
"Our table by Thy bounty spread, Our wants supplied from day to day.”
5. We must be content with another change:—
"Nor light of man's direction need, While we pursue our heavenward way."
Full original text in Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. ix. p. 43. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

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The Cyber Hymnal #747

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Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #574

Include 54 pre-1979 instances
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