O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Since Pastor George is away I’ve been left in charge of getting the bulletin ready. I decided to work with one of my strengths and share some information that I found about the hymns we sing in church.
Today we are singing “O God Our Help in Ages Past.” The words for this hymn were written by Isaac Watts. The words paraphrase the 90th Psalm and originally had nine verses. Watts was a prolific hymn writer with over 600 hymns attributed to him. He is often called the Father of English hymnody. He started writing hymns when only 18 when his father challenged him to write something better than the very slow songs that were being currently sung. This hymn was originally called “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” but in 1738 John Wesley changed the first line to the text from “Our God” to “O God” when he published this hymn in his hymnal, “Psalms and Hymns.”
The tune of the hymn is called St. Anne and was written by William Croft the organist at the Church of St. Anne in Soho, London in 1708 during the reign of Queen Anne. Croft is considered by many to be the foremost musician of his time. He was one of the founding fathers of the Academy of Vocal Music (1726) later called the Academy of Ancient Music.
Some notable uses of this hymn (from Wikipedia) include:
– Bing Crosby included the hymn in his album Beloved Hymns (1951).
– The song was sung at the funeral of Winston Churchill.
– It is the University Anthem of the University of California, Berkeley.
– It is also the School hymn for King Edward VI School, Southampton, which Isaac Watts himself attended.
-It is the peal of the Southampton Civic Centre clock tower. JoBC