The Lord Bless You and Keep You 14th Century B. C. The Dead Sea Scrolls were, until recently, our oldest copies of biblical text. But in 1979, Villanova professor, Judith Hadley, was assisting archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, in excavating a site in Jerusalem's Hinnom Valley. In a buiral cave, she saw something resembling the metal cap of a pencil. It was a sensational find, a tiny silver scroll of great antiquity. Anoth was found nearby. These tiny ammulets, dating to the Hebrew monarchy seven centuries before Christ, were so small and fragile they took several years to painstakingly clear and open. Then scientists finally unrolled them, they found the world's oldest extant copy of a biblical text, the words of Numbers 6:24-26: While the amulets date from the seventh century B.C., the original words are far older, coming 1,400 years before Christ. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the Lord commanded the priests to bless the people with this three-fold blessing. These ancient lyrics have been set to music many times, but never more beautifully than by Peter Christian Lutkin in his classic tune "Benediction." During the Fanny Crosby/Ira Sankey era of gospel music, when so much was written for easy congregational singing, Lutkin wrote more elaborate melodies with a classical flare. Lutkin was born in Wisconsin in 1888, and devoted his life to church music, studying the masters in Europe, excelling on the organ, and founding the School of Music at Northwestern Illinois. He helped start the American Guild of Organists. He died in 1931 and was buried in Rosehill Cemetary in Chicago. In his Notes From My Bible , D.L. Moody said about the priestly blessing of Numbers 6: "Here is a benediction that can give all the time without being impoverished. Every heart may utter it, every letter may conclude with it, every day may beging with it, every night may be sanctified by it. Here is blessing--keeping--shining--the uplifting upon our poor life of all heaven's glad morning. It is the Lord Himself who (gives us) this bar of music from heaven's infinite anthem."