Hymn Carved In The Minds and Hearts of People
The hymn was written by a blind English preacher, Rev. William Walford in 1845. When not saying the mass in Coleshill, Warwickshire, England, he carved shoe horns and trinkets for the small shop he owned. He could quote the Bible accurately during sermons since he had memorized the Bible cover to cover even though Rev. Walford was blind. Not an idle blind man, he was completely immersed in writing in poetry form. A Rev. Thomas Salmon also lived in Coleshill and by his account, while visiting Rev. Walford’s shop, he was told by the blind preacher that he had a new poem, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. Rev. Salmon was then requested to write down the poem which he did. Rev. Salmon moved to the U.S. and he sent a copy of the poem to The Observer. The paper did find it worth preserving and published it in 1845 when it officially became a hymn. Then it appeared in the hymnal Church Melodies in 1859. Unfortunately, Rev. Walford passed away before William Bradbury could set his soul-lifting poetry in “Sweet Hour of Prayer” to music (1861).
William Bradbury was the best Sunday school music composer in the U.S. He was always teaching young kids and nurturing his quest for knowledge. He studied music abroad (England, Germany, Switzerland) and took everything he learned back to the U.S. and made sure music would be taught in all New York public schools. He published “Sweet Hour and Prayer” in his collection Golden Chains, and from then on, the hymn appeared on countless hymnals worldwide. Like many of his famous hymns, he set the words of Walford to Andante tempo in a hymn-tune with such a natural flow that uplifts, and with simple and catchy harmonies. It became a staple in hymnals, possibly played at times on Bradbury pianos, which its tune composer Bradbury and his family manufactured