As we continue to walk through this season of unrest the hymn Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, written by Isaac Watts, is a great reminder that our assurance and hope are secure in the person of Jesus Christ.
Isaac Watts was born on July 17, 1674. His father was a deacon in the Congregational Church in Southampton, England who just after his birth was arrested and jailed for being a “dissenter,” non-Anglican. Watts was raised in the Congregational Church and was a very intelligent child. He learned Latin at age four, Greek at nine, and Hebrew at 13. He loved rhyme and verse and began writing poems while in grammar school. Later in his education, a wealthy benefactor offered to send him to Oxford but that would have required him to become Anglican. He graciously declined and enrolled in Stoke Newington, a college for non-Anglican “dissenters.”
Watts graduated at 19 and returned home to serve in his father’s church. When he heard the dreary worship music he complained. At the time, only arrangements of the Psalms were sung during services. After some discussion, his father challenged him to write a hymn that would inspire his congregants to worship. Watts penned his first hymn and the congregation liked it so much, they requested a new hymn each week. In all, he wrote over six hundred hymns, many that we still sing today.
The hymn Our God, Our Help in Ages Past is based on Psalm 90. The hymn was composed during a time of great uncertainty about religious freedom in England under Queen Anne, who desired to constrain any church that was non-Anglican. The hymn is a reminder of the assurance and hope we have in Christ regardless of our current trials and tribulations. As we come together to fast and pray let us worship the Lord through this beautiful hymn.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Bill Gemaehlich is the EVP/COO operations at Insight for Living Ministries