Henry van Dyke was born on November 10, 1852 and died on April 10, 1933. He graduated from Princeton University in 1873 and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1877. His friend and classmate Pres. Woodrow Wilson appointed him Ambassador to Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1913 just before WWI broke out. There he worked to protect American lives and provide relief. He was a friend of Helen Keller who wrote in her autobiography, Midstream: My Later Life :
Dr. van Dyke is the kind of a friend to have when one is up against a difficult problem. He will take trouble, days and nights of trouble, if it is for somebody else or for some cause he is interested in.
(Keller, Midstream, pp. 233-34)
Henry van Dyke was a Presbyterian clergyman and a writer, poet and hymn lyricist. Van Dyke chaired the committee that wrote the first Presbyterian printed liturgy, The Book of Common Worship of 1906, the first liturgical book of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. In 1908–09 Dr. van Dyke was an American lecturer at the University of Paris.
Here is a prayer he wrote for gifts for the daily tasks. It is as close to perfect as man can create:
These are the gifts I ask of thee, Spirit serene:
Strength for the daily task, courage to face the road,
good cheer to help me bear the traveler’s load,
and, for the hours that come between,
an inward joy in all things heard and seen.
These are the sins I fain would have thee take away:
Malice and cold disdain, hot anger, sullen hate,
scorn of the lowly, envy of the great,
and discontent that casts a shadow gray
on all the brightness of the common day.
— Henry Van Dyke