Hymn #582: O God of Earth and Altar

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote the poem on which this hymn was based, and it appeared in The Commonwealth and in The English Hymnal (1906).  Jane Parker Huber (1926-2008) updated stanza 2 and added stanza 3 in the version provided here.

G. K. Chesterton is better known for his literary career than for his hymnwriting.  A friend of George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton published more than one hundred volumes of stories, novels, plays, biographies, and verse.  He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922 and espoused a return to the trade practices of the Middle Ages as a cure for the ills of industrialization.

LLANGLOFFAN is a traditional Welsh melody.  Its first publication has been traced to Llwybrau Moliant (1872), a Baptist tune collection.  Some scholars believe that the tune may have spread from England to Wales in the eighteenth or nineteenth century.  The title may refer to the “Church of St. Gloffan.”

The harmonization of this popular Welsh folk melody should be attributed to The English Hymnal. (1906) and may have been the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Welsh hymnbook editor and composer David Evans made a different arrangement of the tune for The Church Hymnary (1927).