LORD, DISMISS US WITH THY BLESSING
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV).
One of the hymns I cherish is “LORD, DISMISS US WITH THY BLESSING.” I can sing its Yoruba version extemporaneously. It is one of the hymns we normally use as closing hymns. John Fawcett (1740-1817) wrote the benediction that became the first two stanzas, while the third stanza was attributed to Godfrey Thring. John Fawcett was ordained a Baptist minister at Wainsgate, Yorkshire. The stanzas attributed to him might have been written in 1772 when he was invited to London to succeed J. Gill as pastor of the Carter’s Lane Baptist Church. On the day of his departure, he had preached his farewell sermon, the wagons were loaded, and he was ready to go. But he was so overcome by the thought of leaving the congregation he had come to love that he canceled his plans and stayed in Wainsgate. In 1793, he was also invited to become president of the Baptist Academy in Bristol, but he similarly declined.
In stanza 1, like a seasoned pastor or priest proclaiming the benediction after a worship service, John Fawcett prayed that the Lord should dismiss his congregation with divine blessing; that He should fill their hearts with joy and peace; and let them each possess divine love, as they triumph in redeeming grace. He added that God should refresh the congregation as they travel through the wilderness of the world. In stanza 2, Fawcett gave thanks and adoration for the Gospel’s joyful sound. He prayed that the fruits of divine salvation should abound in the hearts and lives of his congregation, and that they should be found ever faithful to the truth. In the additional stanza attributed to Godfrey Thring, Thring added a word of prayer to conclude the hymn: when the divine love calls us away from this world, the Savior should let no fear of death appall us, and that as we gladly obey the divine summons, we should ever reign with God in endless day.
As you meditate on this hymn of prayer, may the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).