I found several stories about this song’s author. All agree the writer is William Walford 1772-1850. Most accounts say he was a preacher in England well known for his memorization of scripture .Some say this was because he was blind . He likely wrote the words to this poem during a time he was away from the pulpit due to a lengthy illness. For some reason he was unable to write down the words and asked another minister to write them down . The minister submitted the words to a newspaper in New York and they were published. In 1849 William Bradbury composed the music.
There is no clear explanation I could find why the fourth verse if often left out of hymnals. According to most sources there were four verses originally. I like the fourth verse!!
Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of Prayer
May I Thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah's lofty height,
Mount Pisgah is the range of mountains Moses stood on when God allowed him to see the “Promised land” and he could say,
I view my home and take my flight; this robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize; and shout while passing through the air, Farewell, farewell Sweet hour of prayer.