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Updated 05/29/2013

 

God of Grace and God of Glory


Harry Fosdick

The words to "God of Grace and God of Glory" were written by Harry Fosdick.  Harry Emerson Fosdick (May 24, 1878-October 5, 1969) was an American clergyman. He was born in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Colgate University in 1900, and Union Theological Seminary in 1904. While attending Colgate University he joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1903. Fosdick was the most prominent liberal Baptist minister of the early 20th Century. Although a Baptist, he was Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church on West Twelfth Street and then at the historic, interdenominational Riverside Church in New York City.

Fosdick became a central figure in the conflict between fundamentalist and liberal forces within American Protestantism in the 1920s and 1930s. While at First Presbyterian Church, on May 21, 1922, he delivered his famous sermon “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”, in which he defended the modernist position. In that sermon, he presented the Bible as a record of the unfolding of God’s will, not as the literal Word of God. He saw the history of Christianity as one of development, progress, and gradual change. To the fundamentalists, this was rank apostasy, and the battle lines were drawn.


John Hughes

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (Northern) in 1923 charged his local presbytery to conduct an investigation of his views. A commission began an investigation, as required. His defense was conducted by a lay elder, John Foster Dulles, whose father was a well-known liberal Presbyterian seminary professor. Fosdick escaped probable censure at a formal trial by the 1924 General Assembly by resigning from the pulpit in 1924. He was immediately hired as pastor of a Baptist church whose most famous member was John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who then funded the Riverside Church in Manhattan's Morningside Heights area overlooking the Hudson River, where Fosdick became pastor as soon as the doors opened in October 1930.

The melody is Cwm Rhondda, the Welsh name for the Rhondda Valley, a popular hymn tune written by John Hughes (1873-1932), in 1907.  The hymn has evolved and shortened over time from an original version, written in 1745, with five verses. 

The hymn describes the experience of God's people in their travel through the wilderness from the escape from slavery in Egypt, Exodus 12-14, being guided by a cloud by day and a fire by night, Exodus 13:17-22 to their final arrival forty years later in the land of Canaan, Joshua 3. During this time their needs were supplied by God, including the daily supply of manna, Exodus 16.

The hymn text forms an allegory for the journey of a Christian throughout their life on earth requiring the Redeemer's guidance and ending at the gates of Heaven (the verge of Jordan) and end of time (death of death and hell's destruction).


Lyrics by Harry Fosdick

 

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power.
Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

 

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces,
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee Whom we adore,
Serving Thee Whom we adore.