Hymn #358: God of the Prophets

Denis Wortman (1835-1922) wrote this poem in October 1884 on behalf of his class of 1860 for the centennial of the New Brunswick (New Jersey) Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church in America (Dutch Reformed).  Wortman's original seven-stanza poem was titled "A Prayer for Young Ministers."

Denis Wortman, a leader of the Dutch Reformed Church in America, was born in Hopewell, New York,  on April 30, 1835.  After serving four parishes, he became head of his denomination's Ministerial Relief Fund and, in 1901, president of General Synod.  Wortman died on August 28, 1922.

This anonymous tune is named TOULON, after the French city.  The original melody was the setting for PSalm 124 in the 1551 Genevan Psalter and was later abridged to fit other texts.  A nearly identical version, called MONTAGUE, appeared in The National Psalmist (1845), edited by Lowell Mason and George Webb.

The Genevan Psalter of 1551 was developed at the insistence of John Calvin, the theologian of the Reformed Church movement.  Calvin felt that nonbiblical words should not be used in singing, as to do so would cause errors and legends to creep into the church's theology.