Lord of might, and Lord of glory

Lord of might, and Lord of glory. John Stuart Blackie* (1809-1895). 

In Blackie’s Songs of Religion and Life (Edinburgh and New York, 1876) this hymn was entitled ‘Prayer for Direction’: 

 Lord of might, and Lord of glory,
On my knees I bow before Thee,
With my whole heart I adore Thee,
Great Lord!
Listen to my cry, O Lord! 
 Passions proud and fierce have ruled me,
Fancies light and vain have fooled me,
But Thy training stern hath schooled me;
Now, Lord,
Take me for Thy child, O Lord. 
 Groping dim, and bending lowly,
Mortal vision catcheth slowly
Glimpses of the pure and holy;
Now, Lord,
Open Thou mine eyes, O Lord. 
 Not with lofty thoughts far-reaching,
Not with blasts of mightful preaching,
But with heart that waits Thy teaching,
Good Lord,
Let me learn from Thee, O Lord! 
 Not where dazzling glories win us,
Not where sounding plaudits din us,
But Thy kingdom is within us,
There, Lord,
Let Thy truth teach me, O Lord! 
In the deed that no man knoweth, 
Where no praiseful trumpet bloweth,
Where he may not reap who soweth,
   There, Lord,
Let my heart serve Thee, O Lord! 
 In the work that no gold payeth,
Where he speedeth best who prayeth,
Doeth most who little sayeth,
   There, Lord,
Let me work Thy will, O Lord! 
 In His name, who, meek and lowly,
Died to make poor sinners holy,
Stumbling oft, and creeping slowly,
   Great Lord,
Guide me by Thy truth, O Lord!

Hymnary.org notes that the hymn appeared in a number of hymnals in the USA, including Hymns and Anthems adapted for Jewish Worship (New York, 1887), which omitted stanzas 4 and 5, and of course 8. It was also included in the Union Hymnal (Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1897). It was found as late as 1953 in the Mennonite Songs of the Church (Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1953), edited by Walter E. Yoder (1889-1964). 

Other books to include it were mostly ones without any particular denominational allegiance, compiled by well meaning editors, such as The Riverdale Hymn Book (1912) edited by Ira Seymour Dodd and Lindsay B. Longacre (1870-1952)Hymns of the People of God (New York, 1910), edited by Henry Sloane Coffin* and Ambrose W. Vernon (1870-1951); and The Hymnal for Young People (New York, 1928, edited by Milton S. Littlefield (1864-1934) and M. Slattery. 

The tune in many books was by Charles L. Safford, dated 1909, presumably written for these words because it was called DOMINUS FORTIS (‘Lord of might’). An alternative was ILIFF, by Lindsay B. Longacre, named after the School of Theology where he taught and was later president, and used in the book which he co-edited. 

In Britain the only denomination to use this hymn was the Congregational Church (it seems not to have been used in Scotland). It was included in the Congregational Hymnary (1916) and in CP, in both books with five stanzas only (1, 2, 3, 6, 8). The 1916 text was as above, but CP altered this to 4-line stanzas. The Companion to CP (1953) provides no information about the original publication but does have the following comment: ‘This hymn has been much improved by the omission of the fourth line of each verse, which consisted of only two words...’ (p. 234). This allowed the hymn to be sung to the tune QUEM PASTORES LAUDAVERE, which fitted the new metre perfectly. 

It is possible that a better known hymn with a very similar first line, ‘Lord of life, and King of glory’* by Christian Burke*, date 1903, has led to the neglect of Blackie’s hymn in Britain.

 

JRW (with thanks to Gordon Bell)

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