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Dear Lord and Father of mankind – Repton

First line:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
NEH 353, from a song in the oratorio Judith
last verse descant
author of text

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), who composed over sixty hymns including Immortal love for ever full and the extremely popular Dear Lord and Father of mankind, once wrote ‘I am really not a hymn writer for the simple reason that I know nothing of music. Only a very few of my pieces were written for singing. A good hymn is the best use to which poetry can be devoted but I do not claim I have succeeded in composing one’. Whittier was born in Massachusetts to Quaker farming parents and after spending several years in Boston as a newspaper journalist and editor he returned home in 1831 to combine journalism with farming. In 1836 Whittier was elected Secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Dear Lord and Father was originally part of Whittier’s religious poem ‘The Brewing of Soma’, which he wrote in 1872; the hymn was first published in 1884 in Horder’s Congregational Hymns.

The composer and music historian Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848–1918) began composing at eight years of age and whilst at Eton he took his Oxford degree in music. He continued his studies at Oxford University, became Director of Music at the Royal College of Music in 1894 and was knighted in 1898. Parry was Professor of Music at Oxford between 1900 and 1908 and during this time he received a baronetcy. Parry’s best-known works are Blest Pair of Sirens (1887), Songs of Farewell (1916–1918) and a setting of Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’. The hymn tune ‘Repton’ is taken from a song in his oratorio Judith (1880).

from notes by Sarah Langdon © 1999


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