O God, Our Help in Ages Past

O God, Our Help In Ages Past

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O God, Our Help in Ages Past

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O God, Our Help in Ages Past is a hymn by Isaac Watts and paraphrases Psalm 90. It originally consisted of nine stanzas. In present usage, however, the hymn is usually limited to stanzas one, two, three, five and nine. In 1738, John Wesley in his hymnal, Psalms and Hymns, changed the first line of the text from "Our God" to "O God."

The hymn was originally part of The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, published by Watts in 1719. In this book he paraphrased in Christian verse the entire psalter with the exception of twelve Psalms which he felt were unsuited for Christian usage.

The hymn, is often sung as part of the remembrance day service in Canada and festive occasions in England.

The hymn tune "St. Anne" (common metre 86.86) to which the text is most often sung was composed by William Croft in 1708 whilst he was the organist of the church of St Anne, Soho: hence the name of the tune. It first appeared anonymously in the Supplement to the New Version of the Psalms, 6th edition in 1708. It was originally intended to be used with a version of Psalm 62. It was not until sometime later when set to Watts' text that the tune gained recognition.

Later composers subsequently incorporated the tune in their own works. For example, George Handel used the tune in an anthem entitled, "O Praise the Lord". J. S. Bach's Fugue in E-flat major BWV 552 is often called the "St. Anne" in the English speaking world,...
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