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Posts Tagged ‘#helpinthepasthopeforthefuture’

At every Remembrance Day service in Canada is sung a most hauntingly sad and hopeful song.

 J.R. Watson, who compiled hymns in a number of anthologies, said of the hymn, O God our Help, “this is one of Watts’s greatest hymns on the human condition, setting the shortness of life and the littleness of human beings against the timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].”

It is a good hymn to sing now … in this time of Coronavirus.

It was written by Isaac Watts, over three hundred years ago! Not only did it have staying power, but it’s message is one of staying power as well.

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

Home may be beginning to feel a rather eternal location for many these days, but it is our shelter as well, both for us and for those who need us to stay home … for their good.

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

The shadow present today is not different than in Watt’s lifetime, nor in Moses’, the one who wrote Psalm 90 … the Psalm that this hymn was written after. Psalm 90 was written as a prayer to be prayed daily.

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

That verse, above, to me is the heart of this song. Near the middle, bringing our attention to the heart of the matter … that, though things can change, ever so much, in our lives, there is a constant, who never changes … the everlasting God.

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

How fragile and short is life. Our mortality ever whispering to us. Yet, there is One who has always been, who knows eternity.

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

More mortality. This verse almost reckons our memories to the meaninglessness of Ecclesiastes’ numerous a time to statements. Really it is just the reminder of the fragility of time, of our time. Our days are not to be wasted.

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

We come to the end, which is a prompt for us as we look at the remainder of our days. The past, how God has been faithful to us, is our hope for the days to come, be it here on Earth, or in eternity.

“The timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].” (Watson)

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