God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength

Full Text

1 God is our refuge and our strength,
in straits a present aid;
2 Therefore, although the earth remove,
we will not be afraid:

Though hills amidst the seas be cast;
3 Though waters roaring make,
And troubled be; yea, though the hills,
by swelling seas do shake.

4 A river is, whose streams do glad
the city of our God;
The holy place, wherein the Lord
most high hath his abode.

5 God in the midst of her doth dwell;
nothing shall her remove:
The Lord to her an helper will,
and that right early, prove.

6 The heathen rag’d tumultuously,
the kingdoms moved were:
The Lord God uttered his voice,
the earth did melt for fear.

7 The Lord of hosts upon our side
doth constantly remain:
The God of Jacob’s our refuge,
us safely to maintain.

8 Come, and behold what wondrous works
have by the Lord been wrought;
Come, see what desolations
he on the earth hath brought.

9 Unto the ends of all the earth
wars into peace he turns:
The bow he breaks, the spear he cuts,
in fire the chariot burns.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
among the heathen I
Will be exalted; I on earth
will be exalted high.

11 Our God, who is the Lord of hosts,
is still upon our side;
The God of Jacob our refuge
for ever will abide.

Scottish Psalter and Paraphrases, 1800

Text Information

First Line: God is our refuge and our strength, In straits a present aid
Title: God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
Meter: 8.6.8.6
Language: English
Refrain First Line: The Lord of hosts is on our side

Notes

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

Tune

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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