Lord! who throughout these forty days

altered as
O Lord, throughout these forty days


Text: Origins. This Lenten hymn by Claudia Hernaman (1838–1898) was first published in her collection The Child’s Book of Praise (London: J.T. Hayes, 1873 | Fig. 1), in five stanzas of four lines. In the preface to this collection, she offered this insight into her purpose:

This little book is an humble attempt to meet a want—which is said to be deeply felt by all who are engaged in teaching children—of hymns which shall set forth the true type of Catholic doctrine and devotion in the simplest language compatible with the mysteries, and with the dignity, of the subject. If in thought we go back to our own childhood, we shall acknowledge how many of the words and phrases commonly used in hymns are unintelligible to a child’s mind; though the subjects of the hymns are precisely those which may fitly be “revealed to babes.”

Our aim should be to accustom our little ones to look upon the Incarnate life of our dear Lord as the great model of their own lives, and to see each event of it a fact in which they have themselves to take a part, rather than a beautiful story of a long past time in which they have no personal interest.

The latter paragraph is especially applicable to the practice of Lent, in which worshipers imitate and reflect upon Christ’s 40-day fast.


Fig. 1. The Child’s Book of Praise (London: J.T. Hayes, 1873).


Text: Analysis. The first stanza makes the immediate connection to the fast and temptation of Christ, found in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13. This stanza, like the ones that follow, ends with an application: teach us to mourn our sins and stay close to Thee. The next two stanzas mention Christ’s interaction with Satan and his physical toil during those forty days, also with a related application. The final two ask Christ to abide with the reader (recalling Luke 24:29), concluding with the hope of eternal life, “an Easter of unending joy.”

Mary Kay Beall, in her analysis for The Hymn, vol. 56, no. 1, offered this perspective:

“Lord, who throughout these forty days” … recounts Jesus’ temptation story with the express intention, I believe, to encourage us by example in our ongoing personal battle with temptation in the wilderness of our conflicting desires. And, most notably, the title and content of this hymn place us firmly in the season of Lent and allude to its prescription for the mindful practice of the spiritual disciplines of these penitential days (p. 44).

Text: Adaptation. Some hymnals use a paraphrase of Hernaman’s text, “O Lord, throughout these forty days,” by Lutheran minister Gilbert E. Doan Jr. (1930–), supplied for the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978 | Fig. 2), mostly for the purpose of updating the archaisms of the original text. Doan was chair of the hymn texts committee of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (1967–1978).


Fig. 2. Lutheran Book of Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg, ©1978), excerpt.


Tune 1. Some time after Hernaman’s original publication, English composer John B. Dykes (1823–1876) committed to producing a musical version of the collection. As the preface to the eventual collection states, “The plan adopted by Dr. Dykes was that of soliciting tunes from musical friends, and of composing others himself.” Dykes died before he could finish the task; the project was taken up by C.A. Barry (1830–1915). Barry claimed of the finished product, The Child’s Book of Praise … with Accompanying Tunes (Fig. 3), “All the tunes here put forth were composed expressly for the words with which they are allied, and all are now published for the first time. With the single exception of an adaptation of a tune by J.S. Bach, all are original, and even that was specially contrived for the hymn with which it appears.” Barry’s tune, in spite of being composed specifically for this text, has not been adopted into other collections.


Fig 3. The Child’s Book of Praise … with Accompanying Tunes (London: J.T. Hayes, ca. 1879).


Tune 2. The most commonly used tune for Hernaman’s text is ST. FLAVIAN. The original form of the tune was first published in The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London: John Day, 1562 | Fig. 4), which was the completion of the English psalter by Sternhold & Hopkins and others. The composer of the tune is unknown. The original, full version was intended for Psalm 132, a Common Meter Double text. The paraphraser of Psalm 132, “Remember David’s troubles, Lord,” was John Marckant.

Fig. 4. The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London: John Day, 1562).

The tune was halved to suit Common Meter texts, starting with The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London: W. Barley, ca. 1598 | Fig. 5), where it was set to Psalm 138, “Thee will I praise with my whole heart,” a paraphrase which had first appeared only six years earlier in Thomas Est’s publication of The Whole Booke of Psalmes. The two-part arrangement (tenor and bass) was by G. Farnaby.

Fig. 5. The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London: W. Barley, ca. 1598).

The change in the third note of the melody from 5 to 7 can be traced as early as Thomas Ravenscroft’s The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London: Company of Stationers, 1621), pp. 230-232; Ravenscroft used the full CMD version of the tune for Psalm 132.

Many hymnals use a harmonization based on the one by Richard Redhead (1820–1901), from his Church Hymn Tunes Ancient & Modern (London: I. Masters, 1853 | Fig. 6), labelled No. XXIX.


Fig. 6. Richard Redhead, Church Hymn Tunes Ancient & Modern (London: I. Masters, 1853).


Redhead’s arrangement was adopted into the first edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern (1861 | Fig. 7), with a few harmonic changes and the reduction of most whole notes to halves. The tune was called REDHEAD NO. 29 and set to four different texts (Nos. 28, 71, 154, 207). In the revised edition of 1875, the tune was renamed ST. FLAVIAN, probably in recognition of Redhead not being the author; in the index it was credited to “Barber’s Psalm Tunes, 1686,” a reference to Abraham Barber’s A Book of Psalm Tunes in Four Parts. The name is apparently in honor of Flavian of Constantinople (5th century).


Fig. 7. Hymns Ancient & Modern (London: Novello, 1861).


The connection between ST. FLAVIAN and Hernaman’s text seems to have started with Charles Hutchins’ music edition of the Episcopal Church Hymnal (Boston: The Parish Choir, 1898).

Tune 3. CAITHNESS is a tune of Scottish origin, first published in The Psalmes of David in Prose and Meeter (Edinburgh: The Heirs of Andrew Hart, 1635 | Fig. 8), in four parts, melody in the tenor part, harmonized and/or edited by Edward Millar. The tune is named after Caithness County, Scotland. The tunes in this book were printed in choirbook format, with the idea four people could stand around one book to sing the parts.

Fig. 8. The Psalmes of David in Prose and Meeter (Edinburgh: The Heirs of Andrew Hart, 1635).

Some hymnals use the harmonization prepared for The English Hymnal (Oxford: University Press, 1906), no. 445. Archibald Jacob, music editor of Songs of Praise Discussed (Oxford: University Press, 1933), offered this assessment of CAITHNESS:

A smooth tune, with an elegant contour; it is noticeable that the stepwise movement is only twice interrupted throughout its length, and then in parallel positions. It is very regularly built in alternate lines of analogous construction, the 2nd and 4th by inversion. A very satisfying tune is the result.

for Hymnology Archive
21 March 2019

Related Resources:

Maurice Frost, English & Scottish Psalm & Hymn Tunes, c.1543-1677 (London: SPCK, 1953), “PSALM CXXXII,” pp. 182-183; “CATHNES TUNE,” p. 270.

“Lord, who throughout these forty days,” The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd rev. ed. (NY: Church Pension Fund, 1962), pp. 44-45.

Marilyn Kay Stulken, “O Lord, throughout these forty days,” Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), pp. 198-199.

J.R. Watson & Kenneth Trickett, “Lord, who throughout these forty days,” Companion to Hymns and Psalms (Peterborough: Methodist Publishing House, 1988), p. 109.

Carol. A. Doran & Nicholas Temperley, “Lord, who throughout these forty days,” The Hymnal 1982 Companion, vol. 3A (NY: Church Hymnal Corp., 1994), no. 142.

Mary Kay Beall, “Lord, who throughout these forty days,” The Hymn, vol. 56, no. 1 (Winter 2005), pp. 44-46: HathiTrust

Paul Westermeyer, “CAITHNESS,” Let the People Sing: Hymn Tunes in Perspective (Chicago: GIA, 2005), p. 110.

Paul Westermeyer, “O Lord, throughout these forty days,” Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010), pp. 108-109.

Carl P. Daw Jr., “Lord, who throughout these forty days,” Glory to God: A Companion (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2016), pp. 172-173.

“Lord, who throughout these forty days,” Hymnary.org:

Hymn Tune Index (Tune No. 178b):