“God of the Ages”

Margaret Clarkson published “God of the Ages” back in 1982, which I delightedly discovered in The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration. The words are set to a Gaelic melody probably familiar to you because it was made popular in the ’70s by Cat Stevens — “Morning Has Broken.”  Such a lovely, delicate melody.  Locating some biographical information about Margaret, I discovered that her story will lead us directly back to our reflections upon suffering. For now, we’ll consider her lyrics to this one song.  Clarkson’s words are so rich exposing an expansive view of life and reality. Knowing the tune, you can sing along! Here are the words:

God of the ages, History’s Maker, planning our pathway, holding us fast,

Shaping in mercy all that concerns us; Father, we praise You, Lord of the past.

God of this morning, gladly your children worship before You, trustingly bow:

Teach us to know You — always among us, quietly sovereign — Lord of our now.

God of tomorrow, Strong Overcomer, princes of darkness own your command:

What then can harm us? We are Your people, now and forever kept by Your hand.

Lord of past ages, Lord of this morning, Lord of the future, help us, we pray:

Teach us to trust You, Love and obey You, Crown You each moment Lord of today.

I’d love to hear your insights in response to these lyrics — as you compare them to Scriptures and your experiences. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Clarkson presents a providential view of reality based upon the rule of a Sovereign Lord in warm and personal tones: “shaping in mercy all that concerns us.”  This reflects well scriptural teaching (Romans 8:18 -39; Eph. 2:10; Psalm 23).  These lyrics remind us that His leadership is benevolent, good — doing what’s in our best interest. “What then can harm us? We are Your people, now and forever kept by Your hand.”

I smile when I sing/read the words, “Crown You each moment Lord of today.” There is a truth behind this and a non-truth:

First the non-truth. He is Lord whether or not we “crown Him.”  We don’t crown Him, because He IS Lord. If we crowned Him Lord, then we would be Lord — as if we had any authority on our own! As if He, our creator, needed our permission to be God! He is the one who holds all things together (Col. 1:17)!  We are along for the ride, so to speak, in that we are the responders, not the causers.

This brings us to the truth side.  We respond. This is an act of the will. We choose (unless we choose not) to recognize Him as Lord and cooperate with Him, thus rather metaphorically, we can say that we “crown Him Lord.”  The Holy Spirit enables us to acknowledge  who He is, to see Him for who He is.  Someone may walk into a room filled with people, but you don’t acknowledge his presence until you see him. Whether or not you see him, he is there.  The Holy Spirit turns on the light.  As Lord, God is always present, in control, and in authority. Our job is to quit fighting and cooperate with the Lord. When and as we do so, we treat Him with the dignity and majesty that the Crowned King and Lord deserves from His servants.

How lovely, how graciously — the Lord chooses to make us also His friends, sheep, heirs, and family. The “God of the Ages” is “Our Father which art in heaven.”

Having read Margaret Clarkson’s life story, I returned to these lyrics, and they took on another color and sense. A sovereign God keeps getting more personal, more intimate, more mysterious, more tender.  Reflecting upon all the lyrics to “God of the Ages”  as a background to your own life, what music and message do you hear?

Teach us to trust You, Love and obey You, Crown You each moment Lord of today.

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on ““God of the Ages”

  1. Katherine

    I love this song but can’t find any video or way to listen to it. Has it been recorded ?

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