Scripture Verse

God of our fathers, art not Thou God in Heaven? 2 Chronicles 20:6

Introduction

portrait
Rudyard Kipling
(1865–1936)

Words: Rud­yard Kip­ling, 1897. The words were orig­in­al­ly writ­ten as the po­em Re­cess­ion­al, and pub­lished in the Lon­don Times dur­ing Queen Vic­tor­ia’s Ju­bi­lee cel­e­bra­tion. They were al­so sung at Kip­ling’s fun­er­al.

Music: Folk­ing­ham from Sup­ple­ment to the New Ver­sion, by Na­hum Tate & Ni­cho­las Bra­dy, 1700 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

Origin of the Hymn

That po­em gave me more trou­ble than an­y­thing I ev­er wrote. I had pro­mised the Times a po­em on the Ju­bilee, and when it be­came due I had wri­tten no­thing that sa­tis­fied me. The Times be­gan to want that po­em bad­ly, and sent let­ter af­ter let­ter ask­ing for it. I made more at­tempts, but no fur­ther pro­gress.

Finally the Times be­gan send­ing tel­e­grams. So I shut my­self in a room with the de­ter­mi­n­ation to stay there un­til I had wri­tten a Ju­bi­lee poem. Sit­ting down with all my pre­vious at­tempts be­fore me, I searched through the doz­ens of sketch­es till at last I found just one line I liked. That was ‘Lest we for­get.’ Round these words ‘The Re­cess­ion­al’ was writ­ten.

Price, p. 34

Lyrics

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!