Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old

Full Text

1 Isaiah the prophet has written of old
how God's earthly kingdom shall come.
Instead of the thorn tree the fir tree shall grow;
the wolf shall lie down with the lamb.
The mountains and hills shall break forth into song,
the peoples be led forth in peace;
for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God
as the waters cover the seas.

2 Yet nations still prey on the meek of the world,
and conflict turns parent from child.
Your people despoil all the sweetness of earth;
the brier and the thorn grow wild.
Lord, hasten to bring in your kingdom on earth,
when no one shall hurt or destroy,
when wisdom and justice shall reign in the land
and your people shall go forth in joy.

Author: Joy F. Patterson

Joy Patterson (b. 1931) was born in Lansing, Michigan, and raised in LaGrange, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in French Studies and an M.A. in French Literature, both from the University of Wisconsin. A Fulbright scholar, she has taught French at the college level and worked for the Social Security Administration. She writes both texts and tunes, and her concerns as a hymn writer are for the unity and inclusiveness of the church, peace, justice, and the stewardship of the earth. A resident of Wausau, Wisconsin, she is an elder of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has been active on the local, presbytery, and national levels. Go to person page >

Text Information


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Isa. 11:6-9
st. 2 = Isa. 55:12-13

Written by Joy F. Patterson (b. Lansing, MI, 1931) in 1981, this text was one of seven winners in a hymn-writing contest for children's hymns sponsored jointly by the Choristers Guild and the Hymn Society of America. It was published in the Hymn Society leaflet "New Hymns for Children" (1982) and was first sung at the Society's convocation in Atlanta that same year. Patterson says of the text, "I have always loved the tune SAMANTHRA, and the images and words from Isaiah 11 seemed made for the tune. Thus scriptural language, a prayer for peace, and a good but little-used tune came together for me in this hymn." Based on biblical imagery found in Isaiah, the text skillfully contrasts the evil and Injustice in this world (st. 2a) with the vision of peace, harmony, and joy in the kingdom of God (st. 1). It concludes with a "Maranatha" prayer ("Lord, come quickly!") for Peace, wisdom, justice, and joy (st. 2b).

Patterson grew up in LaGrange, Illinois, studied French language and literature at the University of Wisconsin, and spent a year at the University of Strasbourg, France, on a Fulbright scholarship. She taught French at the University of Wisconsin and worked as a homemaker and as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration. An elder in the Presbyterian Church, she was a member of the committee that prepared The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990). A writer of some thirty hymn texts and composer of hymn tunes, Patterson has also written choral music, including "On a Winter Night" (1974). A collection of her hymns, Come, You People of the Promise was published in 1994.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; other worship that emphasizes the qualities of the kingdom of God, both here and to come.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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