O God, Our Help In Ages Past
Isaac Watts wrote the hymn as a paraphrase of the first five verses of Psalm 90. Published in 1719, the lines of the hymn embrace strong faith in God on the basis of past experience and reveal great confidence in the future. Perhaps Watts’ most bracing hymn, it was played on the radio by the BBC as soon as World War II was declared, and was later sung at the funeral service of Winston Churchill.
William Croft, an eighteenth-century English organist composed the tune we use for singing “O God, Our Help In Ages Past.” He named the tune “St. Anne” for St. Anne’s Church in Soho, London, where he became organist in 1700. One of the finest musicians of his day, Croft became organist at Westminster Abbey and composer to the Chapel Royal in 1708.
The translation of his Latin epitaph in Westminster Abbey reads, “Having resided among mortals for fifty years, behaving with utmost candor, he departed to the heavenly choir on the 14th day of August, 1727, that, being near, he might add his own Hallelujah to the Concert of Angels.”