Posted by: rcottrill | November 10, 2017

Lord, While for All Mankind We Pray

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Words: John Reynell Wreford (b. Dec. 12, 1800; d. June 9, 1881)
Music: Dalehurst, by Arthur Cottman (b. circa Nov, ___, 1841; d. June 3, 1879)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Wreford seems to have begun as a Unitarian, but there’s some evidence that he later joined the Presbyterian clergy. However, when he began to have serious problems with his voice, he retired from pastoral ministry and founded a school. He wrote A History of Presbyterian Nonconformity, in 1832. He also wrote several volumes of verse, and at least fifty-five hymns.

There is some question as to the date of his death. Another source has July 2, 1881, and still another has 1891. Historian John Julian, usually reliable in these matters, says Wreford’s death took place in 1881.

Most of the nations we know of have their own national songs. We hear some of them played at the Olympic Games, or on other occasions that bring countries together. So, what makes a good national anthem or song?

¤ The text should establish the identity of the nation, and perhaps tell a little of its history.
¤ It should glow with patriotism.
¤ Ideally, it will also have a spiritual element that recognizes the blessings of God, and includes prayers for the future.
¤ It helps too to have a tune that is uplifting, inspiring, and singable.

The English word “nation” has been used since the twelfth century. It comes from an Old French word, nacion, having to do with birth and descendants. In early years, the focus of the word was on a large group of people with a common ancestry (cf. Israel, Isa. 41:8). Later on, there was more emphasis on the nations being political and geographical entities.

After the worldwide flood wiped out all of humanity, with the exception of Noah and his family, God gave a detailed catalogue of the nations descending from Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis chapters 10–11).

The list of seventy nations in the tenth chapter has proven to be amazingly accurate. Using this list, and other ancient documents, British author William Cooper has been able to trace with precision the origins of the earliest Europeans. His book, After the Flood (revised in 2015) makes fascinating reading.

Though human beings, through exploration, settlement, treaty and conquest, establish themselves as national entities, the Bible makes clear that a sovereign God oversees this aspect of human history.

“When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples” (Deut. 32:8).

This had particular significance for the nation of Israel. In the Scriptures, God assures them, nearly one hundred and fifty times that it is He who has given them the land of Canaan, in perpetuity, as their own special possession. “The Lord appeared to Abram [later called Abraham] and said, “To your descendants I will give this land” (Gen. 12:7; cf. 13:14-15).

But Deuteronomy 32:8 is not simply for Israel, it’s for all nations, asserting God’s sovereignty over them all. “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it” (Deut. 10:14). “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours”(I Chron. 29:11).

Therefore, our national songs perform a significant service when they remind us of our accountability to God, and our dependence on Him. America’s Star-Spangled Banner, and My Country ‘Tis of Thee, as well as O Canada, celebrating my own nation in the north, each end with a stanza expressing trust in God and a prayer for His aid. Katharine Lee Bates’s America the Beautiful is a true hymn, and every stanza is an insightful prayer.

But in examining each of these songs, we can see that they’re nationally specific. They can’t be sung with the same meaning by other nations. However, that’s not the case with a hymn written by English clergyman John Reynell Wreford. He produced it in recognition of Queen Victoria’s 1837 ascension to the throne, but its application to any “native land” was recognized, and it was soon included in hymnals both in Britain and America.

CH-1) Lord, while for all mankind we pray,
Of every clime and coast,
O hear us for our native land,
The land we love the most.

CH-4) Unite us in the sacred love
Of knowledge, truth, and Thee;
And let our hills and valleys shout
The songs of liberty.

CH-6) Lord of the nations, thus to Thee
Our country we commend;
Be Thou her refuge and her trust,
Her everlasting Friend.

1) What do you especially appreciate about your native country?

2) What concerns do you have about your country that you need to pray for?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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