Opening Hymn Story
"O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST"
(CH 81; SDAH 103)
This paraphrase of the first part of Psalm 90, a psalm attributed to Moses, appears in Watts's Psalms of David, 1719, in nine stanzas. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) titled it, "Man Frail and God Eternal." He wrote it at a time when the Dissenters, that is, those who did not conform to the established Church of England, were in danger of severe persecution and of having their schools and academies closed. However, the death of Queen Anne on the very day that the Schism Bill of 1714 was due to go into effect, and the coming to the throne of George I, brought them relief. Since the inclusion of this text and tune in the 1961 Hymns Ancient and Modern, it has served the British Commonwealth almost as a second national anthem.
ST. ANNE was composed by William Croft to commemorate the 12 years he was organist at St. Anne's Church in Soho, London. Croft was born at Nether Ettington in Warwickshire, near Stratford-upon-Avon, in 1678. He became a chorister in the Chapel Royal, and then organist at St. Anne's, Soho, in London from 1700-1712. He was also joint organist with Jeremiah Clarke at the Chapel Royal from 1704, and in 1708 organist at Westminster Abbey. The University of Oxford granted him the degree of D.Mus. in 1713. At first, Croft wrote songs and odes for the theater, but later composed music for harpsichord and violin, and hymn tunes for the church. He wrote 30 anthems and psalm tunes. He died at Bath, Somerset, on August 14, 1727.
The 1908 Christ in Song was the first Adventist hymnal to include this hymn.
--Condensed from Wayne Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, pp. 153-154.