“Lord, in this hour . . .”: Words for Samford’s Westminster Chimes

Every quarter hour during the work day the bells in Samford University’s Rushton Carillon play the appropriate portion of Westminster Chimes (also known as Westminster Quarters). The familiar sixteen notes of the top of the hour chimes are without a doubt the most familiar and widely used hourly times in the world. Despite the fact that everyone at Samford hears the tune, I find that few people know they have words.

The tune was written in 1793 for the Church of St. Mary the Great, the University Church in Cambridge, England. It was chosen for the bells in the clock tower in London’s Palace of Westminster in the middle of the next next century and first used in the United States in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1875.

The words to the tune inscribed on a plaque in the Westminster clock tower are

All through this hour
Lord, be my guide
that by thy power
no foot shall slide.

There are several other slightly different versions. The one I memorized decades ago is

Lord, in this hour,
be thou our guide,
that by thy power
no foot shall slide.

With all Samford’s emphasis on Christian faith and campus symbolism, it is a wonder that students are not taught the words so that they might sing or pray them on the hour when they hear the bells as they walk along the Quad.

One comment

  1. I had no idea that the Westminster song was composed for religious purposes. That is very dissapointing since I’m an atheist. I’ll now have to silence three of my antique clocks from chiming that song since I forbid anything pertaining to god or religion in my home.

    Like

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