O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Another hymn by Isaac Watts, this one is a paraphrase of Psalm 90 for his 1719 collection: “Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament”. At the time of writing, the Church of England was persecuting non-conformist Christians like Watts who worshipped in congregations outside the state-owned church. It is thought these events influenced these words. Psalm 90 and this hymn asks us to behold the God who is timeless, the One whose days and years are the same. It promises that the same God who has worked in the past, and will work in the future, is at work right now. This hymn has often been sung in times of great significance; the BBC in the UK aired it on the radio when Britain entered WW2, and again at the funeral of Winston Churchill1.

O 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,
Still may we dwell 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,
soon bears us all away;
we fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the op’ning day.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guide while troubles last,
And our eternal home!

1page 164 – Leeman, D. and Leeman, B., 2022. Our Hymns, Our Heritage: A Student Guide to Songs of the Church

2 thoughts on “O God, Our Help in Ages Past

  1. I am so enjoying this site and your work to bring us a hymn of the day. My favorite is yesterday’s hymn, Praise to the Lord the Almighty, and this is up there, too.

    Thank you!

    Jean Sullivan



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s