O God Our Help in Ages Past

Something for the weekend.  After the election results this week, I suspect that O God Our Help in Ages Past, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, will be of consolation to many of us.  Written by Isaac Watts in 1719 it is a magnificent hymn based on Psalm 89. (Psalm 90 in Protestant Bibles.)  The hymn is sung to the tune of Saint Anne written in 1708 by William Croft.  Here is the text of Psalm 89 which reminds us of the omnipotence of God in spite of the transitory events of this life that preoccupy us:

[1] A prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation.

[2] Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world was formed; from eternity and to eternity thou art God.

[3] Turn not man away to be brought low: and thou hast said: Be converted, O ye sons of men.

[4] For a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday, which is past. And as a watch in the night,

[5] Things that are counted nothing, shall their years be.

[6] In the morning man shall grow up like grass; in the morning he shall flourish and pass away: in the evening he shall fall, grow dry, and wither.

[7] For in thy wrath we have fainted away: and are troubled in thy indignation.

[8] Thou hast set our iniquities before thy eyes: our life in the light of thy countenance.

[9] For all our days are spent; and in thy wrath we have fainted away. Our years shall be considered as a spider:

[10] The days of our years in them are threescore and ten years. But if in the strong they be fourscore years: and what is more of them is labour and sorrow. For mildness is come upon us: and we shall be corrected.

[11] Who knoweth the power of thy anger, and for thy fear

[12] Can number thy wrath? So make thy right hand known: and men learned in heart, in wisdom.

[13] Return, O Lord, how long? and be entreated in favour of thy servants.

[14] We are filled in the morning with thy mercy: and we have rejoiced, and are delighted all our days.

[15] We have rejoiced for the days in which thou hast humbled us: for the years in which we have seen evils.

[16] Look upon thy servants and upon their works: and direct their children.

[17] And let the brightness of the Lord our God be upon us: and direct thou the works of our hands over us; yea, the work of our hands do thou direct.


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. when a bit discouraged- just a bit– I have sighed o God and then realized my sighed expression was in the same interval of those notes of this song– and then of course happily and naturally go on to our help in ages past

  2. That’s what our adversaries would like us to think Mary. We have lost a battle not the war. The political pendulum will swing back as it normally does, and much sooner than the doomsayers think.

  3. You are spot on Paul. Donald is absolutely right. Always remember the Scandal of the Cross which became the Key to our Salvation. The Catholic Church is strongest when She appears defeated. The Church Triumphant is “in the trenches” as I write this to rescue the Church Militant

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