Skip to main content

Our God Our Help In Ages Past a song by Issac Watts & William Croft

Our 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 defense is sure.

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

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
Return, ye sons of men:
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

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

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

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

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

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

This hymn is by Issac Watts.  Watts wrote between 600 and 750 hymns in his life and many more poems.  He also wrote, "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross", "Joy To The World", and "Come Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove".

It is interesting that John Wesley changed Watt's lyrics from "Our God, our God in ages past", to "O God, our God in ages past".  It is also interesting that this song has nine verses.  Literate prose has a rich tradition in hymn writing.

This song was Winston Churchill's favorite hymn.  He requested it, when he had a church service, when meeting with Roosevelt, at sea, in 1941; and it was sung at his funeral.

William Croft wrote the music for Watts words to this song.  While this song is Croft's most enduring, his "Funeral Sentences", which are songs from the Common Book of Prayer, which contains verses from various Bible passages, was called a "glorious work of near genius", by music historian Matthias Range.  George Frideric Handel was an admirer of Croft, and the Funeral Sentences was performed at Handel's funeral in 1759, and every State funeral in England since, including Princess Dianna's in 1997 and Margaret (Baroness) Thatcher 2012.

Issac Watts (1674-1748) was in the Non-Conformist movement, in England, that said "no" to state sponsored Anglicanism, which gave birth to the Puritans who came to America.  Many of the middle-aged denominations had their beginnings during this time, including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Methodists.

His dad was imprisoned twice for his non-conformist views.  He studied Latin, Hebrew, and Greek.  He wrote many of his hymns in his twenties and began preaching at age 24.  A condensed biography and a listing of all his hymns is here.

He was born with a gift for making rhymes, which his parents did not understand at first and thought irreverent.  But, as a young man, when he complained about the poor quality of the hymns in church, his father challenged him to write better ones, and Issac did.  He wrote most of his hymns between the ages of twenty and twenty-two.

After the Protestant Reformation began, the Lutherans and Moravians began to develop their own hymns.  The Calvinist Christians carried the idea that the Bible already contained a hymnal, so they attempted to put the Psalms to music, and published them first in 1562.  Their hymn book went through 78 editions.  This was the basic Hymnal that Christians had when Issac was Watts born in 1674.

The timeline of his life, is that he finished school, in 1694 and wrote the bulk of his hymns over the next two years.  In 1696, at the age of 22, be began working as a tutor and chaplain.  He did this for three years.  Then he became an assistant minister at Mark Lane Independent (i.e. Congregational) Chapel in London, and full pastor in 1702.  Note that the Congregational Church had its beginnings in the non-conformist, informational, movement.

He was a pastor until 1712 (age 38), when his health failed.  He then slowed down and wrote for the rest of his life, and he died in 1748.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Two Disciples and The Two Donkeys

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task.  He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anybody says anything to you, say that the Lord needs it.” He sent them off right away.  Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said,  Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.”  The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them.
-Matthew 21:1-7

On what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. But, he had two disciples get two donkeys: a mother donkey and her colt. Jesus rode the young male who had never been ridden before. In his carefulness and perhaps kindness towards these two donkeys, he had th…

Teaching vs. Indoctrination

As usual, Paul went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures.
-Acts 17:2

There is a difference between teaching and indoctrination.  Education is not indoctrination.  But some secular and christian education is indoctrination masquerading as education.

If you are a teacher, whether you homeschool your children, teach at the pro level or you teach in your church; it is good to know this difference between indoctrination and true teaching.  Many people are indoctrinated today, rather than taught.

What you might notice, is that when you preach, whether you preach to a crowd or a few, it is easy to be an indoctrinator rather than a true teacher.  True teachers ask people questions and expect them to challenge and debate them.


Teaching

Sharing ideas and conceptsTeaching is absorbed and integrated into one's own lifeConcepts or ideas are questioned and debatedMaterial is reflected uponStudents summarize back what's being learnedStudents thin…

God's Secret, Hidden People

(The children) of Elam 1,254.  -Ezra 2:7

Do you feel hidden?

The name Elam means secret or hidden.  Do you feel like you are on the shelf, not being used by God?  Maybe you are part of God's secret agents.

God has people who are in secret.

I have this idea that God has His attention on secret people.   I believe that God has rewards for secret people coming.  You may feel on the shelf, but you are actually hidden for a special purpose.  God has you in reserve.

The number one thousand, two-hundred, and fifty-four; tells us God's plan for his hidden, secret, and in reserve children

One thousand speaks of recompense.

Recompense means that you will be compensated or made amends to, due to harm or loss you suffered. In Genesis 20:16 is the story of Abimelech recompensing Abraham and Sarah.

Two speaks of fellowship, partnership, and co-laboring (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

There are hidden people who have felt like they are "going it alone", who are about to be joined by someone.  …