O Lord God of our fathers.@2 Chronicles 20:6
portrait
Henry M. Dunham (1853-1929)

Benjamin Copeland, 1898.

Written during the stirring events that took place at the close of the Spanish-American War, when Porto [sic] Rico on the east and the Philippines in the far west came under the stars and stripes. Reference is made to our widening bounds in the fourth verse.

It was written while the author was pastor of the Richmond Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Buffalo, N. Y., and was first published in Zion’s Herald, Boston, under the title Thanksgiving Day, November 18, 1903. It is a wholesome and truly Christian hymn of thanksgiving.

Nutter, pp. 370-71

The naming of the tune Theodore has an interesting history. When the composer first played it over to one of the editors, the latter exclaimed, That tune sounds strenuous! This adjective, so often applied to President Theodore Roosevelt, at once suggested Roosevelt as a name for the tune. But as that seemed too obvious, they chose instead the President’s first name, Theodore. After the [Methodist] Hymnal appeared, the Rev. Benjamin Copeland, author of Our fathers’ God, to thee we raise, to which the tune Theodore is set, wrote to ask why the tune was called by that name. Did the composer know that the author had lost a little boy whose name was Theodore? The reply came to Dr. Copeland that the tune had been named for the President. Whereupon Dr. Copeland replied that the coincidence was even more remarkable because when Roosevelt was police commissioner in New York he had been such an admirer of the commissioner’s integrity and devotion to duty that he had named son after him.

Price, pp. 210-11

Puritan Henry M. Dunham, 1905 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Our fathers’ God, to Thee we raise,
In cheerful song, our grateful praise;
From shore to shore the anthems rise;
Accept a nation’s sacrifice.

Incline our hearts with godly fear
To seek Thy face, Thy Word revere;
Cause Thou all wrongs, all strife to cease,
And lead us in the paths of peace.

Here may the weak a welcome find,
And wealth increase with lowly mind;
A refuge, still for all oppressed,
O be our land forever blest!

Thy wisdom, Lord, Thy guidance lend,
Where’er our widening bounds extend;
Inspire our wills to speed Thy plan:
The kingdom of the Son of Man!

Through all the past Thy truth we trace,
Thy ceaseless care, Thy signal grace;
O may our children’s children prove
Thy sovereign, everlasting love.