Hymn #81: God Be with You

Jeremiah Eames Rankin (1828-1904) based this hymn on the familiar words of parting “God be with you,” often contracted into the term “goodbye.”  After completing the first stanza, Rankin sent it to two musician friends. He added the other stanzas later after selecting the tune by William Tomer.

Jeremiah E. Rankin was a Congregational minister who served churches in New York and New England before being called to First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C.  This hymn was written during his fifteen-year tenure as pastor at that church.

William Gould Tomer (1833-1896) wrote the tune GOD BE WITH YOU at the invitation of his friend Jeremiah Rankin.  Tomer was minister of music at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., at the time, although he had little formal training as a musician.

William G. Tomer served on the staff of General Oliver O. Howard (for whom Howard University is named) in the Civil War.  Later he taught school in New Jersey and worked for the government and as a newspaper reporter.  Tomer was editor of the Hunterdon (New Jersey) Gazette at the time of his death in 1896.