Scripture Verse

Go in and possess the land. Deuteronomy 1:8


John M. Hay (1838–1905)

Words: John M. Hay, 1895.

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

Peter C. Lutkin (1858–1931)

Origin of the Hymn

In the sum­mer of 1895, at his sum­mer home at Lake Sun­na­pee [New Hamp­shire], 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.