written around 1856
by the Unitarian
writer Love Maria Whitcomb Willis
. The hymn is sung to either the tune St Sylvester
, by J B Dykes
, or to Marching
, by Martin Shaw
. I'm very fond of this hymn, expecially sung to the latter tune, which I learned by heart at school, aged 5. The imagery is very vivid and slightly surreal, and the tune is stirring.
Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.
Not forever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be,
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.
Not forever by still waters
Would we idly rest and stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our Guide;
Through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be Thou at our side.