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
|First Line:||God of our fathers, Whose almighty hand|
|Title:||God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand|
|Author:||Daniel C. Roberts (1876)|
|Liturgical Use:||Prayer Songs|
The year 1876 was the centennial of the United States’ Declaration of Independence, which was the occasion for which this text was written. Daniel C. Roberts, an Episcopalian rector in Vermont, was the author. It was first sung in St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Brandon, Vermont, to the tune RUSSIAN HYMN. Roberts submitted his text to the revision of the hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1892, where it was first published.
This hymn has four stanzas. The only notable alteration made to this text is that sometimes the opening line is changed from “God of Our Fathers” to “God of the Ages” for gender inclusivity.
NATIONAL HYMN, the tune to which this text is sung, was written by George W. Warren in 1892. It was first published in Arthur H. Messiter's The Hymnal Revised and Enlarged in 1893. One popular feature of this tune is the trumpet fanfares at the beginning of each short phrase. In the original publication of this tune, the first phrase was indicated “Voices alone,” with the organ joining after the second fanfare. This hymn should be sung in harmony at a moderately slow tempo, with full accompaniment.
This hymn is usually treated as an American patriotic hymn, which it was originally intended to be. In this use, it is sometimes combined with other patriotic hymns, such as in “Patriot’s Medley” for brass sextet, which combines “God of the Ages,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” However, this text is not inherently American, so it can also be used by any nation as a prayer for God’s guidance. “God of All Ages, Whose Almighty Hand” is a choral setting in which the standard opening fanfare is expanded to include the choir and is repeated at the end. Brass and percussion are optional, but with this hymn, the trumpets are expected on the fanfares. This setting is also included in the global prayer service “Prayers for the Nations.” A simpler way to augment this grand hymn tune is with a brass quartet setting of “NATIONAL HYMN” that is designed to complement the standard hymnal setting for congregational singing.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org