Our God, Our Help in Ages Past

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Our God, Our Help in Ages Past

Music Played on the Titanic

(O God, Our Help in Ages Past)


The Hymn "Our God, our help in ages past" was recalled by Colonel Archibald Gracie, as the last to be sung at the morning service, presided over by Captain Smith:

'The exercise and the swim gave me an appetite for a hearty breakfast. Then followed the church service in the dining saloon, and I remember how much I was impressed with the "Prayer for those at Sea," also the words of the hymn, which we sang, No. 418 of the Hymnal. About a fortnight later, when I next heard it sung, I was in the little church at Smithtown, Long Island, attending the memorial service in honor of my old friend and fellow member of the Union Club, James Clinch Smith. To his sister, who sat next to me in the pew, I called attention to the fact that it was the last hymn we sang on this Sunday morning on board the Titanic. She was much affected, and gave the reason for its selection for the memorial service to her brother because it was known as Jim's favorite hymn, being the first piece set to music ever played by him as a child and for which he was rewarded with a promised prize, donated by his father.
What a remarkable coincidence that at the first and last ship's service on board the Titanic, the hymn we sang began with these impressive lines:

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.'

The words to the hymn were written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), for the collection Psalms of David published in 1719. The music, "St. Anne," was composed in 1708. by William Croft (1678-1727).

1. Our God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Our Shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home!

2. Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

3. Before the hills in order stood,
Or Earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

4. Thy Word commands our flesh to dust:
"Return, ye sons of men!"
All nations rose from earth at first
And turn to earth again.

5. A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

6. The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their cares and fears,
Are carried downward by the flood,
And lost in following years.

7. Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the op'ning day.

8. Like flowery fields the nations stand,
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower's hand
Lie with'ring ere 'tis night.

9. Our God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal Home.


Samples
St Anne (Croft) (midi)

References
Colonel Archibald Gracie (1913) The Truth about the Titanic. New York, Mitchell Kennerley

Links
The Cyber Hymnal

Related Biographies:
Archibald Gracie

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    Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Wednesday 12th October 2005, last updated .