The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O God Of Bethel

For the New Year

Words: Philip Doddridge (1702-1751), 1737
Verse 5: Unknown

Music: “Dundee” from the Scotch Psalter
Meter: C.M.

Other Music: St. Hugh (Hopkins), Edward J. Hopkins, available at the Cyberhymnal, O God of Bethel. Additional music is also found at Oremus, O God of Bethel.

Source: Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), pp. 258-9, #261.

1. O God of Bethel, by Whose hand
Thy people still are fed,
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our fathers led.

2. Our vows, our prayers, we now present
Before Thy throne of grace;
God of our fathers, be the God
Of their succeeding race.

3. Through each perplexing path of life
Our wandering footsteps guide;
Give us each day our daily bread,
And raiment fit provide.

4. O spread Thy covering wings around
Till all our wanderings cease,
And at our Father’s loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace.

5. Such blessings from Thy gracious hand
Our humble prayers implore;
And Thou shalt be our chosen God,
And portion evermore.

Sheet Music "Dundee" (Scotch Psalter) from Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), pp. 258-9, #261.

Also mentioned in Ravenscroft's Psalter.

Note:

According to Samuel Willoughby Duffield, “This hymn was written to follow a sermon on 'Jacob's Vow,' Gen. 28:20-22, preached January 16, 1737. It is found in an altered form among Logan's Poems, 1781, and was also numbered among the Scotch Paraphrases. Perhaps, therefore, it was altered by Michael Bruce, who died in 1767.”

He continues: “As for Logan's claim, the least said the better. A more utterly extirpated liar has never perished under the ban of judicious criticism.”

Samuel Willoughby Duffield, English Hymns: Their Authors and History. 10th Edition. (New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1886 ), p. 415.

Rev. John Logan had falsely claimed the poem as his own, as scathingly exposed in Alexander Balloch Grosart, ed., The Works of Michael Bruce (Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Co., 1865), p. 98. Full credit is given to Rev. Doddridge citing his Hymns, founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures published by Job Orton in 1755.

John Julian notes the Scottish sources as Translations and Paraphrases, editions of 1745 and 1781. He also notes that the original was in manuscript form held by the Rocker family and identified as Rooker MS, #100. The original owner was apparently Lady Frances Erskine, a friend of Doddridge. That manuscript, with corrections made by Doddridge in the margin, was provided to the committee that compiled the Translations and Paraphrases.

According to Julian, the text in the Rooker MS, as corrected, was:

Oh God of Bethel, by whose Hand
   Thine Israel still is fed
Who thro' this weary Pilgrimage
   Hast all our Fathers led.

To Thee our humble Vows we raise
   To thee address our Prayer
And in thy kind and faithful Breast
   Deposite all our Care.

If thou thro' each perplexing Path
   Wilt be out constant Guide
If thou wilt daily Bread supply
   And Raiment wilt provide.

If thou wilt spread thy Shield around
   Till these our wandrings cease
And at our Father's lov'd Abode
   Our souls arrive in Peace.

To Thee as to our Covenant God
   We'll our whole selves resign
And count that not our tenth alone
   But all we have is thine.

Julian feels that there is insufficient evidence to give any attribution to Michael Bruce. He lists seven versions in Common Use, and also discusses the claim on behalf of Risdon Darracott. Additional extensive notes are given by Julian in his Dictionary of Hymnology (1907), pp. 831-2.

The hymns of Rev. Doddridge were compiled and published in Job Orton under the title Hymns, founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures (London: 1755) This hymn is printed as number IV in the Third Edition of 1766:

Douglas Maclagan edited a collection titled The Scottish Paraphrases in 1889 (Edinburgh: Andrew Elliott, pp. 64-5), wherein he printed six versions of this hymn from the Paraphrases of 1745, 1751, and 1781 together with versions ascribed to Doddridge, Darracott, and Logan.

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