Psalm 90

Words: Isaac Watts
Note: there are versions in three metres on this page.  L.M.  &  S.M. below


Part 1. v.1-5
Man frail, and God eternal. 
   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 ev'ning gone;
      Short as the watch that ends the night
         Before the rising sun. 

   6  [The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
         With all their lives and cares,
      Are carried downwards 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.
Part 2. v. 8--12. Part 2 
Infirmities and mortality the effect of sin.
   1  Lord, if thine eye surveys our faults,
         And justice grows severe,
      Thy dreadful wrath exceeds our thoughts,
         And burns beyond our fear.

   2  Thine anger turns our frame to dust;
         By one offence to thee
      Adam with all his sons have lost
         Their immortality.

   3  Life, like a vain amusement, flies,
         A fable or a song;
      By swift degrees our nature dies,
         Nor can our joys be long. 

   4  'Tis but a few whose days amount
         To threescore years and ten;
      And all beyond that short account
         Is sorrow, toil, and pain. 

   5  [Our vitals with laborious strife
         Bear up thc crazy load,
      And drag those poor remains of life
         Along thc tiresome road.] 

   6  Almighty God, reveal thy love,
         And not thy wrath alone;
      O let our sweet experience prove
         The mercies of thy throne! 

   7  Our souls would learn the heav'nly art
         T'improve the hours we have,
      That we may act the wiser part,
         And live beyond the grave. 

Part 3. v.18,8&c.
   1  Return, O God of love, return;
         Earth is a tiresome place:
      How long shall we, thy children, mourn
         Our absence from thy face ? 

   2  Let heav'n succeed our painful years,
         Let sin and sorrow cease,
      And in proportion to our tears
         So make our joys increase. 

   3  Thy wonders to thy servants show,
         Make thy own work complete;
      Then shall our souls thy glory know,
         And own thy love was great. 

   4  Then shall we shine before thy throne
         In all thy beauty, Lord;
      And the poor service we have done
         Meet a Divine reward.


Man mortal and God eternal  A mournful song at a funeral

   1  Through ev'ry age, eternal God,
      I Thou art our rest, our safe abode;
      High was thy throne ere heav'n was made,
      Or earth thy humble footstool laid. 

   2  Long hadst thou reigned ere time began,
      Or dust was fashioned to a man;
      And long thy kingdom shall endure
      When earth and time shall be no more. 

   3  But man, weak man, is born to die,
      Made up of guilt and vanity;
      Thy dreadful sentence, Lord, was just,
      "Return, ye sinners, to your dust." 

   4  A thousand of our years amount
      Scarce to a day in thine account;
      Like yesterday's departed light,
      Or the last watch of ending night. 


   5  Death, like an overflowing stream,
      Sweeps us away; our life's a dream,
      An empty tale, a morning flower,
      Cut down and withered in an hour. 

   6  [Our age to seventy years is set;
      How short the time! how frail the state !
      And if to eighty we arrive,
      We rather sigh and groan than live. 

   7  But O how oft thy wrath appears,
      And cuts off our expected years!
      Thy wrath awakes our humble dread;
      We fear the power that strikes us dead.] 

   8  Teach us, O Lord, how frail is man;
      And kindly lengthen out our span,
      Till a wise care of piety
      Fit us to die, and dwell with thee.


     The frailty and shortness of life.

   1     Lord, what a feeble piece
         Is this our mortal frame !
      Our life how poor a trifle 'tis,
         That scarce deserves the name ! 

   2     Alas, the brittle clay
         That built our body first!
      And ev'ry month, and ev'ry day,
         'Tis mould'ring back to dust. 

   3     Our moments fly apace,
         Nor will our minutes stay;
      Just like a flood, our hasty days
         Are sweeping us away. 

   4     Well, if our days must fly,
         We'11 keep their end in sight;
      We'11 spend them all in wisdom's way,
         And let them speed their flight. 

   5     They '11 waft us sooner o'er
         This life's tempestuous sea;
      Soon we shall reach the peaceful shore
         Of blessed eternity.

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Page last modified on: 07/29/2004