Scripture Verse

Go in and possess the land. Deuteronomy 1:8


John M. Hay

Words: John M. Hay, 1895.

Music: Jo­shua Pe­ter C. Lu­tkin, 1905 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Peter C. Lutkin

Origin of the Hymn

In the sum­mer of 1895, at his sum­mer home at Lake Sun­a­pee, Mr. Hay was asked to write a hymn for the op­en­ing of the 15th In­ter­na­tion­al Chris­tian En­deavour Con­ven­tion, at Wash­ing­ton, the fol­low­ing year, but de­clined on the ground that his verse-writ­ing days were past.

But in the fol­low­ing spring he sent this hymn, with the state­ment that there was no ob­li­ga­tion to use it. In his Ms. it is en­ti­tled An In­vo­ca­tion.

It was sung at the Con­ven­tion of 1896, and again at the Con­ven­tion on Ju­ly 4, 1905, when the op­en­ing ex­er­cis­es as­sumed the form of a mem­or­i­al service, as his bo­dy was be­ing borne to the grave.

Julian, p. 1646


The Gold­en Rule of Ju­ly 16, 1896, in a re­port of the con­ven­tion, says, The fine in­vo­ca­tion hymn, writ­ten for us by the Wash­ing­ton poet, John Hay, was read in un­i­son by the au­di­ence and sung with a will.


Defend us, Lord, from every ill;
Strengthen our hearts to do Thy will;
In all we plan and all we do,
Still keep us to Thy service true.

O let us hear the inspiring word
Which they of old at Horeb heard;
Breathe to our hearts the high command,
Go onward and possess the land!

Thou who are light, shine on each soul!
Thou who are truth, each mind control!
Open our eyes and make us see
The path which leads to Heaven and Thee!


The Chris­tian En­dea­vor World for Jan­u­a­ry 12, 1905, gives a fac­sim­i­le of Hay’s man­u­script, titled In­vo­ca­tion, with this omit­ted first verse:

Lord, from far-severed climes we come
To meet at last in Thee, our Home.
Thou who hast been our guide and guard
Be still our hope, our rich reward.