Heavenly Father, send Thy blessing


Christopher Wordsworth


Heav’nly Father, send Thy blessing

On Thy children gathered here;

May they all, Thy Name confessing,

Be to Thee forever dear;

May they be like Joseph, loving,

Dutiful, and chaste, and pure;

And their faith, like David, proving,

Steadfast unto death endure.


Holy Saviour, who in meekness

Didst vouchsafe a child to be,

Guide their steps and help their weakness,

Bless and make them like to Thee;

Bear Thy lambs, when they are weary,

In Thine arms, and at Thy breast;

Thro’ life’s desert, dry and dreary,

Bring them to Thy heav’nly rest.


Spread Thy golden pinions o’er them,

Holy Spirit, heav’nly Dove,

Guide them, lead them, go before them,

Give them peace, and joy, and love;

Thy true temples, Holy Spirit,

May they with Thy glory shine,

And immortal bliss inherit,

And forevermore be Thine.


It is easy to forget that many hymns are actually poems. They have metre, rhyme, and a clear grounding in the poetic idea. It seems appropriate for the Lambeth Conference to recall this piece by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) who was both a bishop and nephew of the great poet William Wordsworth. He became Bishop of Lincoln in 1869 until his death in 1885 when he was succeeded by Edward King.

This hymn – Heavenly Father, send Thy blessing – was written in the early 1860s and perhaps was used at one of the Lambeth Conferences from 1867. Sadly it has not been in print since at least the 1940s. Two quatrains per stanza follow a rhyming ABAB-CDCD sequence with the odd lines being octosyllabic. Each of its three verses invokes the persons of the Trinity, and its imagery roams from the OT through to the Fourth Gospel. Something about its end-of-term dismissal feel may also make it appropriate for schools. The 8787D metre means it can be sung to any of the ‘Love Divine’ tunes such as Hyfrodol and Blaenwern, and even Abbot’s Leigh.