The Story Behind O God, Our Help in Ages Past
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 rephrased in Christian verse the entire psaltery with the exclusion of twelve Psalms which he thought were inappropriate for Christian practice.
The hymn melody "St. Anne" to which the lyrics are most frequently sung was produced by William Croft in 1708 while he was the organist of the church of St Anne: giving the name of the melody. It first emerged anonymously in the Supplement to the New Version of the Psalms in 1708. It was first meant to be used with a version of Psalm 62. It was not until sometime following when matched with Watts' text that the melody earned significant recognition.
In 1738, John Wesley in his hymnal, Psalms, and Hymns, altered the first line of the text from "Our God" to "O God." Both Watts' wording and Wesley's rewording remain in modern usage.
Popular Hymn Lyrics with Story and Meaning
Day by Day and With Each Passing Moment
Jesus Loves Me
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Nearer My God to Thee
Abide with Me
His Eye is On the Sparrow
Be Thou My Vision
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty