God a Very Present Help

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God is our refuge and our strength, Our ever present aid (Presbyterian Church USA)

Published in 22 hymnals

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Representative Text

1 God is our refuge and our strength,
our ever present aid,
and, therefore, though the earth gives way,
we will not be afraid;
though hills amidst the sea be cast,
'though foaming waters roar,
yea, though the mighty billows shake
the mountains on the shore.

2 A river flows whose streams make glad
the city of our God,
the holy place wherein the Lord
Most High has his abode;
Since God is in the midst of her,
unmoved her walls shall stand,
for God will be her early help,
when trouble is at hand.

3 The nations raged, the kingdoms moved,
but when his voice was heard,
the troubled earth was stilled to peace
before his mighty word.
The Lord of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

4 O come, behold what wondrous works
the Lord's great might has wrought;
come, see what desolation great
he on the earth has brought.
To utmost ends of all the earth
he causes war to cease;
the weapons of the strong destroyed,
he makes abiding peace.

5 Be still and know that I am God,
o'er all exalted high;
the subject nations of the earth
my name shall magnify.
The Lord of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #46B

Text Information

First Line: God is our refuge and our strength, Our ever present aid (Presbyterian Church USA)
Title: God a Very Present Help
Language: English
Notes: Spanish translation: See "Refugio y fortaleza es Dios" by Priscilla Piñero
Copyright: Public Domain


A celebration of the absolute security of the city of God.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-3
st. 2 = vv. 4-5
st. 3 = vv. 6-7
st. 4 = vv. 8-9
st. 5 = vv. 10-11

This song in celebration of Zion's security (see also 48 and 76) has heartened God's people throughout the ages. Luther echoed it in "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (469). Traditionally ascribed to (or assigned to) the "sons of Korah," the psalm was no doubt composed for liturgical use at the temple. As a song concerning the royal city of the kingdom of God on earth, it expresses Israel's hope in the certain triumph of God's kingdom. The psalm's imagery of a river that "make[s] glad the city of God" (v. 4) serves as a metaphor for the unfailing flow of God's sustaining and refreshing blessings, which make the city of God like the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2: 10).

In this psalm we confess fearless trust in God, "our refuge" (st. 1), and extol God's refreshing river and protective presence (st. 2). God stills the rage of the nations, inspiring us with faith's strong confidence (st. 3). The LORD's mighty victories assure us of the people's peace (st. 4), and God's reassuring word "Be still, and know. . ." inspires us again with the confidence of faith. (st. 5). The versification is based on the 1650 Scottish psalter version, which was altered in both the 1871 and 1912 American psalters and now again in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal. Hymns based on Psalm 46 are at 468, 469, and 610.

Liturgical Use:
Suitable for many occasions in Christian worship, especially for times of war or persecution, confusion and loss, whenever the conflict between church and world sharpens. Also for Old or New Year services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988



NOEL (Sullivan)

The tune NOEL (also used at 185) is also known as EARDISLEY or GERARD. Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b Lambeth, London. England. 1842; d. Westminster, London, 1900) adapted this traditional English melody (probably one of the variants of the folk song "Dives and Lazarus"), added phrases of his own to rec…

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WINCHESTER OLD is a famous common-meter psalm tune, presumably arranged by George Kirbye (b. Suffolk, England, c. 1560; d. Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England, 1634) from a melody in Christopher Tye's Acts of the Apostles and published in T. Este's The Whole Book of Psalmes (1592) set to Psalm 84. Ki…

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The Cyber Hymnal #1787
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Include 13 pre-1979 instances
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