I love thy kingdom, Lord

Hymn # 524        I love thy kingdom, Lord

Words:                 Timothy Dwight

Tune:                    St. Thomas

Composer:          Aaron Williams, harmonized by Lowell Mason

“I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” (1801) is perhaps the earliest hymn still currently used that was composed by a citizen of the United States. The author, Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), was one of the outstanding leaders of his time. 

Dwight’s family tree was indeed a distinguished one. He was the grandson of the Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards. Dwight demonstrated a precocious spirit at a young age …entering Yale College at age 13. Graduating from Yale at 17, taught grammar school in New Haven … became a tutor at Yale … served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War with George Washington. After becoming a Congregational minister in Fairfield, Conn., Dwight supplemented his insufficient pastoral salary by opening a private academy. The success of this academy led to his election in 1795 as president of Yale College. 

Dwight left a legacy of improved scholastic standards at Yale College, serving not only as the school’s president, but also as professor of literature, oratory and theology, and college chaplain. He is credited with fostering a revival among the students through his sermons in the college chapel, a revival that spread to other New England colleges. 

Dwight’s literary accomplishments were many. He may be best known today for his 1797 revision of Isaac Watts’ 1719 Psalms of David, to which he added 33 of his own texts. “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” published in the 1801 revision of Watts’ Psalms of David, is the only remaining text from Dwight’s Watts, prepared at the request of the General Association (Congregational) of Connecticut, that has survived.  The text originally had 8 verses but most hymnals have reduced it to five.

Here's a rousing rendition from the National Cathedral: YOUTUBE