Heavenly Father, Thou hast brought us
Safely to the present day,
Gently leading on our footsteps,
Watching o’er us all the way.
Friend and Guide through life’s long journey,
Grateful hearts to Thee we bring,
But for love so true and changeless
How shall we fit praises sing?
Mercies new and never failing
Brightly shine through all the past;
Watchful care and lovingkindness,
Always near from first to last;
Tender love, divine protection
Ever with us day and night;
Blessings more than we can number
Strew the path with golden light.
Shadows deep have crossed our pathway;
We have trembled in the storm;
Clouds have gathered ’round so darkly
That we could not see Thy form;
Yet Thy love hath never left us
In our griefs alone to be,
And the help each gave the other
Was the strength that came from Thee.
Many that we loved have left us,
Reaching first their journey’s end;
Now they wait to give us welcome:
Brother, sister, child and friend.
When at last our journey’s over,
And we pass away from sight,
Father, take us through the darkness
Into everlasting light.
The S.A. Song Book lists two other tunes for this seldom used song, but South Shields is a lovely option, as shown in the accompanying video of a small congregation in Newfoundland. The lyrics were written by a British woman, Hester Hawkins, who lived from 1846 to 1928. She collaborated with Edwin Moss to compile The Home Hymn Book, a Manual of Sacred Song for the Family Circle . How wonderful it was when families gathered to sing hymns together – a practice less frequent today! Hester Hawkins was also interested in astronomy, and authored several books on the subject, which were published in the early twentieth century. Although this seems unusual for a woman at that time, it is very fitting that we Christians should be keen to learn more about God’s amazing work in the universe.