The British editor of The Baptist Hymn Book Companion, Hugh Martin (b. Glasgow, Scotland, 1890; d. East Grinstead, Sussex, England, 1964), wrote this text. It was chosen as one of thirteen finalists from among some 450 new texts submitted to the Hymn Society of America on the topic of "Home and Family." The text was first published in a Hymn Society pamphlet, Thirteen New Marriage and Family Life Hymns (1961). This publication was the result of a joint project by the Department of Family Life of the National Council of Churches (U.S.), the Canadian Council of Churches, and the Hymn Society of America. Their mandate was to find new hymns that "recognize the fundamental nature of marriage and family life; express the Christian ideals which should guide such relationships; and stress the responsibility of the church for developing and maintaining such ideals."
"O God in Heaven" is united by the refrain's prayer for divine blessing on family life. The four stanzas confirm God's care in our lives when he gave us Christian parents and homes and fellowship in times of “Joy and sorrow, work and play” (st. 1-2). The text presents a prayer for forgiveness and wisdom as young and old relate together (st. 3) and a prayer for joy in doing daily tasks–"housework," which every member should share with "delight" (st. 4). The humble gratitude for the ordinary aspects of family living and the sensitivity to the good and bad times exhibited in this text are attitudes that seem increasingly scarce in our hurried and often broken family lives.
Educated at Glasgow University, Martin studied for the Baptist ministry. From 1914 to 1950 he was active in the Student Christian Movement and served as the editor of its press. He later served as the moderator of the Free Church Federal Council and chairman of the executive committee of the British Council of Churches. One of his many publications, They Wrote Our Hymns (1961), is a notable book about the work of the great hymn writers.
As a homemaker's prayer in family life services of various kinds (also fitting for doing the laundry and other chores during weekdays).
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook