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Updated 06/04/2013

 

O God, Our Help in Ages Past


Isaac Watts
The music for “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” is attributed to William Croft (1678-1727).  As a boy, Croft was a chor­is­ter at the Cha­pel Roy­al. From 1700-1712, he was or­gan­ist at St. Anne, So­ho, Lon­don. From 1704 on, he was, joint­ly with Jer­e­m­i­ah Clarke, or­gan­ist of the Cha­pel Roy­al. In 1708 he be­came Mas­ter of the Child­ren at Cha­pel Roy­al and or­gan­ist at West­min­ster Ab­bey. In 1713 he re­ceived a Doc­tor of Mu­sic de­gree from Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. In 1726, the Aca­de­my of Vo­cal Mu­sic (lat­er the Aca­de­my of An­cient Mu­sic) was found­ed by 13 mu­si­cians, in­cluding Croft, Pep­usch, Bo­non­ci­ni, and Gem­i­ni­a­ni.

Croft was com­pos­er to Queen Anne and was rec­og­nized as the fore­most church mu­si­cian of his time. Croft al­so wrote in­stru­ment­al works (e.g., cem­balo and so­na­tas for flute (re­cord­er).  

The words are by Isaac Watts.


William Croft


Lyrics by Isaac Watts

 

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.