In times like these, I often turn to the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 90 from 1719. Today I turned to it again for solace and hope. All the singers are white, but, hey, so am I, and there is hope even for the likes of I.
Psalm 90 in its entirety is a song of lament, but hope — and a call to personal responsibility — rise from despair.
Years ago I was given a copy of The Book of Psalms and Scottish Hymnal (1879) with the cursive signature of the man who used it: “John Campbell, Blair Mill, 1886.” (My middle name is Campbell.) I dusted it off this morning to read it through. The rendition of Psalm 90 John Campbell sang in 1886 ends with a prayer that recognizes our own responsibility for “the works of our hands”:
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: Our handy-work establish Thou, establish them each one” (Psalm 90:17).
- Gordon Campbell Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 7, 2018.