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Sunday, January 27, 2013



1.  O God, our help in ages past,
     Our hope for years to come,
   Our shelter from the stormy blast,
  And our eternal home.

2.  Under the shadow of Thy throne
      Thy saints have dwelt secure;
   Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
     And our defense is sure.

3.  Before the hills in order stood,
      Or earth received her frame,
   From everlasting Thou art God,
     To endless years the same.

4.  A thousand ages in Thy sight
      Are like an evening gone;
   Short as the watch that ends the night
     Before the rising sun.

5.  Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
      Bears all its sons away;
   They fly forgotten, as a dream
     Dies at the opening day.

6.  O God, our help in ages past,
      Our hope for years to come,
    Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
      And our eternal home.

This ancient hymn, based on Psalm 90, has brought comfort and encouragement to many over the centuries. It’s a reminder that the same God who has been with us through earlier trials will continue to guide us through whatever sorrows and challenges life will bring in the future.

It has been said that “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” is one of Isaac Watts’ greatest works and one of the finest hymns in the whole arena of English hymnody.

Isaac Watts by unknown artist
at London's National Portrait Gallery
Isaac Watts, born in Southampton, England in 1674, was raised in a family that did not embrace the established Church of England. In his early childhood his genius for verse was identified, and he was later promised a financed university education by friends. He declined the generous offer because the donors assumed he would pursue ordination in the Church of England. Instead, in 1690 he attended a Nonconformist Academy at Stoke Newington under the tutelage of the pastor of the Independent congregation at Girdler’s Hall. He later joined the congregation in 1693.

After returning to Southampton for two years, where he wrote most of his hymns, he returned to Stoke Newington for five years as a tutor. In 1702 he became the pastor of an influential Independent Congregational Chapel in London, but resigned after only ten years due to health issues which would continue to plague him until his death in 1748.

He published his Hymns and Spiritual Songs between 1707 -1709. Over his lifetime he is credited with writing 750 hymns and numerous other works. He also authored: “When I survey The Wondrous Cross” and “Joy To The World”.

Isaac Watts poetry also earned him praise in the American colonies. John Wesley called him a genius and Benjamin Franklin published his hymnal.

Williams Croft, an English composer and organist, composed the music of this old hymn to the tune of “St. Anne”.

He served first as a chorister at the Chapel Royal as a boy and later as one of the organists. He was a composer for Queen Anne and is attributed to be the preeminent church musician of his time. In 1708 he became the organist for Westminster Abbey. He composed works for the funeral of Queen Anne and George Frideric Handel as well as for the coronation of King George I.

O God, our help in ages past,
      Our hope for years to come,
    Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
      And our eternal home.


  1. Did you know that Watt's hymns had an important, but unconventional part in the Revolutionary War?

  2. Love that hymn. In current turmoil, one can be reassured that God is still in charge simply by remembering what He has done in the past. Thank you for this post, Janet.

  3. That's a very interesting website, and so is your's georgewashingtoninn. in a beautiful area.

    Judith, those were my thoughts, too, as we observe what's going on all around us.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I love this hymn! Thank you for the background on it. Now I have it running through my head, but this is a good thing! :)


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