Modern Setting (Tune) of Isaac Watts' Hymn
"Our God, Our Help in Ages Past"

Somebody apologised a few Sundays ago for choosing this hymn, because the words are so old-fashioned, the tune so square. It is hard to do with geetars. Sigh. So here is a quick update to the words.

The six verse version normally sung misses out too many verses. 'Time, like an ever rolling stream' appears from nowhere and doesn't really make sense any more, at least, it no longer makes the sense that Watts intended. So here is a 4x2 verse version with words that have been only-slightly modernised. Only one of the original 9 verses is missing.

1. 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 your throne
Your saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is your arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
2. Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting you are God,
To endless years the same.
A thousand ages in your sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
3. 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.
4. Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower's hand
Wither before the night.
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
O be our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
Isaac Watts (altd.)

In order to make sure that Watts' (and Moses') wonderful words are not lost to modern congregations, the following setting is offered freely.

Here is the modern, but metrical setting for piano of 'Echelford' (with guitar chords) Feel free to download it and use it, but do not alter it. Copyright David W. Legg 2005.

PDF version of Our God, Our Help
PDF version for printing.
MIDI version of Our God, Our Help
MIDI version to download and
listen to using a MIDI player.
Rosegarden 4 version of Our God, Our Help
Rosegarden 4 version for getting
alternative prints from.

Another setting with only the usual 6 verses and a different lot of modern words is available in the Praise Hymnal. Tediously, these are copyright.

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Other settings using Rosegarden (rosegarden4) Father of Mercies Immortal Honours and also a page showing how to get Rosegarden sound going: Rosegarden Sound Howto

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