"The lyric of “Sweet Hour of Prayer” came from William W. Walford (1772-1850), an obscure, blind lay preacher who served in the hamlet of Coleshill, Warwickshire, England. He owned a small trinket shop in the village where he sold shoehorns and other intricate items he had whittled, fashioned and polished from bones. Walford memorized many chapters of the Bible, quoting them verbatim in his sermons; some folks thought he had memorized the entire Bible. William also composed poetic lines of verse … and he prayed.
"The story goes that a Congregational minister and friend, Thomas Salmon, stopped by Walford’s shop one day in 1842. Walford asked if Salmon would write down his new poem, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Three years later, Salmon was in the U.S. and showed the poem to the editor of the New York Observer, who printed it in the Sept. 13, 1845 issue. About 15 years later, William B. Bradbury (1816-1868), a composer from New York, wrote the tune that is usually associated with this song.” (http://www.homecomingmagazine.com/art…/sweet-hour-of-prayer/)