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What are the lyrics to ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’?

Here are the lyrics to the early 18th century hymn 'O God, Our Help in Ages Past'

O God, Our Help in Ages Past lyrics

Who wrote the hymn ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’?

‘Our God, Our Help in Ages Past’ was written by Isaac Watts in 1708, after he inspired by the  90th Psalm of the Book of Psalms. 30 years later, in 1738, hymn writer  John Wesley changed the ‘our’ to ‘O’ so the hymn became ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’. Today the hymn is regularly sung at Remembrance services.

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Who was Isaac Watts?

Isaac Watts was an English Christian minister and prolific hymn writer, who wrote over 750 hymns. As well as ‘Our God, Our Help in Ages Past’ other famous works he wrote included the hymn ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ and the carol ‘Joy to the World ‘ 

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Who composed the music for ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’

The tune the hymn is most commonly sung is known as ‘St Anne’ and was composed by William Croft in 1708 for version of Psalm 62 and it would be some years  later that it would get set to Watts’s hymn.

Since then many composers have incorporated the tune into their works, including Handel, J. S. Bach and Arthur Sullivan while Vaughan Williams featured both the hymn and words in his anthem ‘Lord, thou hast been our refuge’.

What are the lyrics to ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’?

1. O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home;

2. Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.

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

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

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

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

Did you know?

Apparently ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’ was the last hymn sung at the last church service aboard the doomed ship Titanic, which was presided over by Captain Edward John Smith.

Want to play ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’? Buy the sheet music below

You can find the lyrics to more famous hymns here