Today’s Word from Minister of Music, Karl Olsen…
Michael S, a commenter on YouTube, gave a fleshed-out version of Psalm 90, a Psalm of Moses, about the Israelites wandering in the desert…
“You have been our dwelling place
A prayer of intercession
The old man slowly placed one step in front of the other.
Full of days he climbed the mountain.
The last month he had told of the blessings of God’s dealings in his life
He had blessed the people recounting how God came down to a mountain to speak to them
Faced with life’s end before the man he was once again to be the mountain climber
Much younger, he had climbed through frightening clouds with thunder
Today, placing one step in front of the other, steadfast, just as prepared to meet his God…”
A wonderful rendering, with great imagery.
Psalm 90 was the source of inspiration for Isaac Watts, who wrote the text for this hymn, part of a collections of hymns and songs from 1719 called The Psalms of David in the Language of the New Testament. Isaac had been challenged by his father to “write something better for us to sing.” So, he did! In this book were all the psalms set to music, except two he felt were “unsuited for Christian usage.” Eventually, Watts would write at least 700 hymns. His texts are used in the some of the most loved hymns in contemporary usage. He rose to the challenge!
Watts was a minister and a nonconformist—not an Anglican which was the trend of the day. He wrote verse as a child, like this one when asked why he opened his eyes during prayer—
A little mouse, for want of stairs
Ran up a rope to say his prayers.
Dad was not amused, and after punishment Isaac wrote—
O father, father, pity take
And I will no more verses make…
The tune we most often use to sing this hymn is St. Anne, a hymn tune and setting by William Croft. Often people take hymns they like and rearrange the melody or the harmonization to give it a new sound and perhaps make the lyrics come alive and be heard in a new way.
With apologies to Croft and Watts, here’s an adaptation of this classic hymn from August 31, 2020. Hopefully in this time of stormy blasts and many a trouble, this hymn might encourage us to rely on God, our hope, our shelter and our eternal home.
Click HERE to listen.
Blessings on your day.