Man Frail and God Eternal

Original Text: 
I. Watts, The Psalms of David (London: S. Burton, E. Kent, and J. Lister, 1805), pp. 231-32. BS 1440 W3 1805 Trinity College Library.
2  Our hope for years to come,
3Our shelter from the stormy blast,
4  And our eternal home.
5Under the shadow of thy throne
6  Thy Saints have dwelt secure;
7Sufficient is thine arm alone,
8  And our defence is sure.
9Before the hills in order stood,
10  Or earth receiv'd her frame,
11From everlasting thou art God,
12  To endless years the same.
14  "Return, ye sons of men:"
15All nations rose from earth at first,
16  And turn to earth again.
17A thousand ages in thy sight
18  Are like an ev'ning gone;
19Short as the watch that ends the night,
20  Before the rising sun.
22  With all their lives and cares,
23Are carry'd downwards by the flood,
24  And lost in following years.
25Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
27They fly, forgotten, as a dream
28  Dies at the op'ning day.
30  Pleas'd with the morning light:
31The flow'rs beneath the mower's hand
32  Lie with'ring ere 'tis night.
34  Our hope for years to come,
35Be thou our guard while troubles last,
36  And our eternal home.


1] Our: O (John Wesley's revision, 1738). See The English Hymnal with Tunes (London [1906]), no. 450, p. 595. The hymn is based on Psalm 90, verses 1-5:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
Dr. William Croft (1678-1727) composed the tune "St. Anne" in 1708 that has come to be traditionally used for this hymn. Back to Line
13] This stanza was first omitted by the Episcopal church in the 1871 Hymnal (see The Hymnal 1982 Companion, ed. Raymond Glover [New York: ChurchHymnal Corp., 1994], III, 679-80). Back to Line
21] This stanza was also first omitted in 1871. Back to Line
26] his: its (in modern text). Back to Line
29] This stanza was also first omitted in 1871. Back to Line
33] Our: O (Wesley's revision). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Watts' Psalms of David (1719)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.