Hymn #573: Lead On Eternal Sovereign

Ernest Warburton Shurtleff (1862-1917), a member of the Andover (Massachusetts) Theological Seminary class of 1888, wrote this text for his class’s graduation service.  The hymn’s imagery is of newly ordained soldiers being sent out to various fields of ministry to battle for Christ.

Ernest W. Shurtleff was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 4, 1862.  He was ordained to the Congregational ministry and served churches in various states before moving to Germany and then France.  Shurtleff was director of student activities at the Academy Vitti in Paris, France, when he died in 1917.
Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879) composed the tune LANCASHIRE in 1836 while living and working at a church in that English county.  The tune first became popular in Nonconformist churches in England and enjoyed wider use after publication in a Presbyterian hymnbook in 1867.

Henry T. Smart edited The Presbyterian Hymnal (1875) for the Church of Scotland and The Chorale Book (1856), which became the standard work on hymn tune harmonizations.  His ability to improvise on the organ served him well after he lost his eyesight fifteen years before his death.