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A Hymn to the God of Abraham

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by rlvaughn, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Mar 20, 2001
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    I'm looking for accurate information on "A Hymn to the God of Abraham". It is usually credited something like this: Words from The Yigdal of Daniel Ben Judah Dayyam, circa 1400, based on the thirteen creeds set forth in the twelfth-century by Moses Maimonides; paraphrased by Thomas Olivers (1725-1799), ca. 1765-1770. Some of the hymn is as follows.

    The God of Abraham praise,
    Who reigns enthroned above;
    Ancient of everlasting days,
    and God of love;
    Jehovah, great I AM!
    by earth and heaven confessed:
    I bow and bless the sacred Name
    forever blessed.

    The God of Abraham praise,
    at Whose supreme command
    from earth we rise, and seek the joys
    at His right hand;
    we all on earth forsake,
    its wisdom, fame and power;
    and Him our only portion make,
    our Shield and Tower.

    The goodly land we see,
    with peace and plenty blessed:
    a land of sacred liberty
    and endless rest;
    there milk and honey flow,
    and oil and wine abound,
    and trees of life for ever grow,
    with mercy crowned.

    There dwells the Lord, our King,
    the Lord, our Righteousness,
    triumphant o'er the world and sin,
    the Prince of Peace;
    on Zion's sacred height
    His kingdom He maintains,
    and, glorious with his saints in light,
    for ever reigns.

    The God who reigns on high,
    the great archangels sing,
    and "Holy, holy, holy," cry,
    "Almighty King!"
    Who was and is the same,
    and evermore shall be:
    Jehovah, Father, great I AM,
    we worship thee."

    The whole triumphant host
    give thanks to God on high;
    "Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost"
    they ever cry;
    hail, Abraham's God and mine;
    I join the heavenly lays;
    all might and majesty are thine,
    and endless praise!

    Before the Savior's face
    the ransomed nations bow.
    Overwhelmed at His almighty grace,
    forever new:
    He shows His prints of love -
    they kindle to a flame!
    And sound through all the worlds above
    the slaughtered Lamb.

    There are several conflicting bits of information online. I would like to confirm the origin of this hymn with Moses Maimonides and Daniel Ben Judah Dayyam (or not). And I would like to find an accurate date for Olivers' paraphrase. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Bro. Curtis

    Bro. Curtis <img src =/curtis.gif>
    Site Supporter

    Oct 25, 2001
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    This hymn was written by Thomas Olivers (1725-1799), after hearing Meyer Lyon (d.1797), a chorister in the Great Synagogue, Duke’s Place, London, sing the Yigdal or Hebrew Confession of Faith. This is read antiphonally by precentor and congregation at the opening of the morning service, but is sung to traditional tunes on the eve of the Sabbath and on the evenings of the Jewish Festivals. The Yigdal is believed to have been written by Daniel ben Judah, a judge in Rome, in 1404, and is based upon the thirteen creeds of Moses Maimonides (ca.1130-ca.1204), with a concluding verse. Olivers wrote the hymn sometime between 1763 and 1770. He is reported to have told a friend during a conference at Wesley’s City Road Chapel: ‘Look at this; I have rendered it from the Hebrew, giving it, as far as I could, a Christian character.’ It first appeared in John Wesley’s Pocket Hymnbook for the use of Christians of all Denominations, 1785, becoming extremely popular in Methodist circles. The hymn is a free paraphrase of the Yigdal; there are twelve verses in total, although most hymn books reproduce only eight or ten. The verses refer extensively to passages of Scripture; Olivers produced references for virtually every line of the text, beginning with Exodus 3:6: ‘ I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham’.


    Words: From The Yigdal of Daniel Ben Judah, circa 1400. Daniel Ben Judah was a Jewish judge in Rome.
    Paraphrased by Thomas Olivers, 1760,


    You probably allready know most of this, I don't know if I helped or not.