The Story Behind The Lord Bless You and Keep You
Peter Lutkin was born in Thompsonville, Wisconsin. His parents, Peter Christian and Hannah Lutkin emigrated to the U.S. from Denmark in 1844. He attended Chicago public schools and was a chorister and organist at St. Peter and St. Paul's Episcopal Church. At age thirteen he began formal music training, studying organ and music theory.
As a composer, Lutkin specialized in writing acapella choral music, mainly for his own choir. He wrote at least thirty hymn tunes, numerous songs for children, and sixty-five choral anthems, several of which remain in print today. He co-edited a Methodist hymnal and was musical editor of the Methodist Sunday School Hymnal. Generations of choristers likely were first introduced to his choral music through his benediction setting, The Lord Bless You and Keep You, with its famous concluding sevenfold amen.
The lyrics of this hymn are found in the Bible verses Numbers 6:24-26, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."
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