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Background

The Hymns and Hymn Writers of The Church
Charles S. Nutter & Wilbur F. Tillett, 1911

This poem, titled “The Recessional” is perhaps the greatest single production of Rudyard Kipling’s pen. It was written in 1897 in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and was first published in the London Times on July 17, 1897. Its first appearance in a hymnal was in Dr. E. H. Johnson’s collection titled Sursum Corda, issued by the American Baptist Publication Society, 1898. We have from the author’s own pen an account of the circumstances that led to his writing this poem:

That poem gave me more trouble than anything I ever wrote. I had promised the Times a poem on the Jubilee, and when it became due I had written nothing that had satisfied me. The Times began to want that poem badly, and sent letter after letter asking for it. I made many more attempts, but no further progress. Finally the Times began sending telegrams. So I shut myself in a room with the determination to stay there until I had written a Jubilee poem. Sitting down with all my previous attempts before me, I searched through those dozens of sketches till at last I found just one line I liked. That was: “Lest we forget.” Round these words “The Recessional” was written.

Next to “The Recessional” the most notable contribution which Kipling has made to the larger Christian patriotism of the world– that patriotism which is international and recognizes the debt which the stronger nations owe the weaker– is found in his poem titled “The White Man’s Burden,” from which we quote the following lines. The poem is an appeal to Christian statesmanship, a high call to international love and altruistic service, to which our Anglo-Saxon race should first of all and most of all give heed.

Take up the White Man’s burden!
Send forth the best ye breed;
Go bind your sons to exile,
To serve your captives’ need.
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden!
Ye dare not stoop to less,
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your God and you.
#HymnalTitleAuthorTuneComposerVerses
947Additional Hymns with Tunes, 1903God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling (1865-1936)The RecessionalEdward W. Naylor (1867-1934)5
559aCongregational Hymnary, 1916God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling (1865-1936)BaynardJosiah Booth (1852-1930)5
559bCongregational Hymnary, 1916God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling (1865-1936)MelitaRev. John B. Dykes (1823-1876)5
338aIrish Church Hymnal, 1919God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling, 1897RecessionalEdvard Grieg (1843-1907), Refrain added by the Rev. David F. R. Wilson (1871-1957)5
338bIrish Church Hymnal, 1919God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling, 1897Agincourt Song15th Century Carol5
558The English Hymnal, 1906God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling (1865-1936)FolkinghamFrom the ‘Supplement to the New Version,’ 17085
439aThe Hymnal (Episcopal), 1916God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling, 1897RecessionalT. Tertius Noble, 19185
439bThe Hymnal (Episcopal), 1916God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling, 1897Old One Hundred TwelfthAnonymous, 1530, Arranged and harmonization by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)5
439cThe Hymnal (Episcopal), 1916God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling, 1897AgincourtEnglish Melody, circa 1415, Harmonization by Rev. C. Winfred Douglas, 19185
710The Methodist Hymnal, 1905God of Our Fathers, Known of OldRudyard Kipling (1865-1936)MagdalenSir John Stainer (1840-1901)5

The texts from any two of the above sources (assuming two or more exist) can be selected to appear below side by side by selecting the source name from the drop-down lists:

1God of our fathers, known of old–
Lord of our far-flung battle line–
Beneath Whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
2The tumult and the shouting dies–
The captains and the kings depart–
Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice.
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
3Far-called our navies melt away–
On dune and headland sinks the fire–
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
4If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe–
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the Law–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
5For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard–
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard–
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
1God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath Whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine,
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
2The tumult and the shouting dies,
The captains and the kings depart,
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
3Far-called, our navies melt away,
On dune and headland sinks the fire,
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
4If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boasting as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law,
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget– lest we forget!
5For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord! Amen.
BookReferenceBible Text
Deuteronomy6:12Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Judges3:7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
1 Samuel12:9And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
Psalm9:17The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Psalm20:7Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm68:7,97 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah: 9 Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
Psalm106:13They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:
Hosea2:13And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.