GOD OF OUR FATHERS
Daniel C. Roberts, 1841–1907
If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
After what I owe to God, nothing should be more dear or more sacred to me than the love and respect I owe my country.
—Jacques Auguste de Thou
We need to be reminded that a nation can receive God’s blessing only when He is recognized as ruler and Lord. Christian people in every land have an awesome responsibility—to be models of God’s righteousness—“salt” and “light” for a sinful and hurting society. The moral strength of a nation rests upon the knees of God’s people.
“God of Our Fathers” also reminds us that concerned citizens of the heavenly kingdom should also be involved citizens of their earthly kingdom. The hymn text was written in 1876, the year that America was preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Daniel Crane Roberts, a 35-year-old rector of a small Episcopal church in Brandon, Vermont, felt that the country should have a new national hymn for the occasion. His new song was sung for the first time by the parishioners of the Brandon village church for their worship service on July 4th, 1876.
Later, at the time of the actual National Centennial Observance commemorating the adoption of the Constitution, Roberts’ hymn text was chosen as the official hymn for that event. These words remind us well that the God who has so richly blessed our land in the past is the One still needed to be “our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay.”
God of our fathers, whose almighty hand leads forth in beauty all the starry band; of shining worlds in splendor thru the skies, our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
Thy love divine hath led us in the past, in this free land by Thee our lot is cast; be thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay, Thy word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
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.
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.
For Today: Exodus 3:15; Psalm 33:12; Proverbs 14:34
Breathe a prayer of thanks for the heritage of Christianity and for God’s continued guidance of our land.