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O God our help in ages past

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O God, Our Help in Ages Past is a hymn by Isaac Watts that paraphrases Psalm 90. It originally consisted of nine stanzas. In present usage, however, the hymn is usually limited to stanzas one, two, three, five and nine. In 1738, John Wesley in his hymnal, Psalms and Hymns, changed the first line of the text from "Our God" to "O God."

The hymn was originally part of The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, published by Watts in 1719. In this book he paraphrased in Christian verse the entire psalter with the exception of twelve Psalms which he felt were unsuited for Christian usage.

The hymn is often sung at festive occasions in England.

The hymn tune "St. Anne" (CM 86.86) to which the text is most often sung was composed by William Croft in 1708. It first appeared anonymously in the Supplement to the New Version of the Psalms, 6th edition in 1708.

Westminister Abbey - Oh God Our Help In Ages Past
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Lyrics

O[1] God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home.


Under the shadow of Thy throne

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

Sufficient is Thine arm alone,

And our defence is sure.


Before the hills in order stood,

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting Thou art God,

To endless years the same.


A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone;

Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.


Time, like an ever rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly, forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.


Our God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Be Thou our guard while troubles last,

And our eternal home.

References

  1. Cyberhymnal.org gives Our God, our help in ages past, and missing verses.

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