~* O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST *~
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Psalm 90:1 & 2

It has been wisely said that no thinking person ever regarded the beginning of a new year with indifference. Each of us faces many concerns and questions as we stand on the threshold of the unknown future.

The mystery of time is the subject of this hymn text, based on Psalm 90. The hymn is considered by many to be one of the finest ever written and perhaps the best known of the 600 hymns by Isaac Watts, often called the "father of English Hymnody".

At an early age Isaac displayed unusual talent in writing poetic verse. As a young man he became increasingly concerned with the congregational singing in the English speaking churches. Only ponderous metrical psalms were used until this time. To use any words other than words of Scripture verbatim would then have been considered an insult to all things sacred.

Challenged by his father to "write something better for us to sing", young Watts began to create more easily singable versions of the psalms with inspiring and expressive style. Eventually, at the early age of 25, he published an important hymnal titled The Psalms of David in the Language of the New Testament. In addition to "O God, Our Help in Ages Past", several of Watts' other paraphrases based on psalm settings are hymn texts still widely sung today. They include such favorites as "Joy to the World" based on Psalm 98 and "Jesus Shall Reign" based on Psalm 72.

After more than 250 years, Isaac Watts' hymn is still a timely reminder of God's faithfulness throughout the past and His sure promises for our future.



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
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.

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



*For Today*: Psalm 33:20, 48:14, 90; Isaiah 26:4

Live confidently in the assurance that the One Who has directed your steps to this moment of time is worthy of your complete trust for the days ahead.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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