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.
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.