Text: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Music: English Melody, pub. c.1721
Tune name: WALSALL
In 1866, the New England poet John Greenleaf Whittier published a 132-line poem called “Our Master.” The poem reflects Whittier’s Quaker upbringing and consequent suspicion of the external expressions of faith (such as sacraments and liturgies). Nevertheless, Episcopalians began singing portions of “Our Master“ in 1916, when six stanzas from the poem were published as this hymn. The first stanza is the same as the 7th stanza of another hymn taken from this long poem, “Immortal Love, for ever full” (#360).
1. O Lord, and Master of us all,
whate’er our name or sign,
we own thy sway, we hear thy call,
we test our lives by thine.
2. Our thoughts lie open to thy sight
and naked to thy glance
our secret sins are in the light
of thy pure countenance.
3. Yet weak and blinded though we be,
thou dost our service own;
we bring our varying gifts to thee,
and thou rejectest none.
4. To thee our full humanity,
its joys and pains belong;
the wrong of man to man on thee
inflicts a deeper wrong.
5. Who hates, hates thee; who loves, becomes
therein to thee allied:
all sweet accords of hearts and homes
in thee are multiplied.
6. Apart from thee all gain is loss,
all labor vainly done;
the solemn shadow of the cross
is better than the sun.
The composer of this tune is unknown. It was first published in about 1721, and is also known as STOW and ST. FAITH.
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.