O God, Our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home!
Isaac Watts, the composer of the beloved hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,”
was considered the father of English Hymnody. Watts was born on July 17, 1674 in Southampton, England. Watts contributed thousands of hymns to the Church. At a young age, Watts was concerned with the low ebb of church music; ponderous psalms were sung. Watts’ father encouraged him to write something better for the congregation to sing. So, for the next two years, Watts wrote a new hymn every week (that’s 104 hymns!). In his day, however, Watts was considered a “radical churchman” for his departure from the psalm-singing tradition. The beloved hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” is a grand retelling of Psalm 90.
1Lord, you have been our help, generation after generation.2Before the mountains were born,before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—from forever in the pastto forever in the future, you are God..
Originally, there were nine stanzas, yet today only stanzas one, two, three, five, and nine are used. This hymn is still used today at all festive occasions in England. In 1738 John Wesley edited the first line of the hymn from “Our God” to “O God.” Although Watts was frail in health during much of his life, he was noted as a scholarly genius in many fields. Some of his writings include essays, psychology, sermons, catechisms, theology, and logic. May you be inspired by these poignant words: Under the shadow of Thy throne still may we dwell secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone,and our defense is sure.
Grace and Peace,