GOD OF GRACE AND GOD OF GLORY                                      written in 1930

The Story

            God has used lots of different kinds of people to bring music to His church.

Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) earned degrees from Colgate University and Union Theological Seminary, and was ordained in 1903 to ministry in the Baptist Church… becoming pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, N.J. He served as a chaplain during World War I and then was pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New York City. From this congregation he was called to pastor Park Avenue Baptist Church, which was renamed Riverside Church.

This hymn was written while the United States was suffering the Great Depression. Harry was a champion of the social gospel, a movement that recognized the plight of the poor, especially in the urban Northeast during the Industrial Revolution.

Under his leadership, Riverside Church was interdenominational, interracial, without a creed, and – astonishingly to his Baptist brethren – required no specific mode of baptism. He set aside such doctrines as the virgin birth and Second Coming of Christ. He became known as a liberal preacher, and he inflamed the modernist-fundamentalist controversy raging in churches in the 1920s. At the center of Harry’s ministry was urban social ministry.

Harry became one of the more vocal proponent of the social gospel of his time – a position that brought both wide acclaim and broad disdain.

The congregation moved to a $5 million building made possible by a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr. This hymn was written for the dedication of that new building.

Harry wrote the text to be sung to the stately REGENT SQUARE (usually sung to “Angels from the realms of glory”). But, a Methodist hymnologist and hymnal editor, Robert G. McCuthan paired it with the Welsh tune CWM RHONDDA for the 1935 Methodist Hymnal. It was an immediate success… and we now sing it with the second tune. Harry never liked it being sung as it is sung today.

Harry was denounced by many conservatives… and most Baptists… in his day. But many conservatives – and Baptists – now sing his song… this song.

This hymn is actually a prayer of dedication that can be sung by anyone on any day.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – pray it as your own personal prayer.

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.

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