443. Hours and Days and Years and Ages

1 Hours and days and years and ages
swift as moving shadows flee;
as we scan life's fleeting pages,
nothing lasting do we see.
On the paths our feet are walking,
footprints all will fade away;
each today as we enjoy it
soon becomes a yesterday.

2 But from sin your mercy drew us,
would not leave our souls alone.
Gracious Lord, you did renew us;
in Christ's death we are your own.
Through the mercy of your leading,
each short step along our way
now becomes a path to guide us
to the land of endless day.

3 Though swift time keeps marching onward,
it will not decide our end.
You will always be our Father,
loving God, eternal Friend.
When life's dangers overwhelm us,
you will ever be our stay;
through your Son you are our Father,
always changeless, come what may.

4 Speed along, then, years and ages,
with your gladness and your pain;
when our deepest sorrow rages,
God our Father will remain.
Though all friends on earth forsake us
and our troubles shall increase,
God with his right hand will take us
to our everlasting peace.

Text Information
First Line: Hours and days and years and ages
Title: Hours and Days and Years and Ages
Author: Rhijnvis Feith, 1753-1824
Translator: Leonard P. Brink (1929)
Reviser: Henrietta Ten Harmsel (1984)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 87 87 D
Scripture: Psalm 90
Topic: Anniversaries; Brevity & Frailty of Life; New Year - Old Year (5 more...)
Language: English
Tune Information
Meter: 87 87 D
Key: F Major or modal

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Ps. 90, Ps. 103:13-18

Dutch poet Rhijnvis Feith (b. Zwolle, the Netherlands, 1753; d. Zwolle, 1824) wrote this text in six stanzas; it was published in the Dutch Evangelische Gezangen (1806). An English translation by Leonard P. Brink (b. East Saugatuck, MI, 1876; d. Pomeroy, IA 1936) was published in The New Christian Hymnal compiled by Henry J. Kuiper in 1929. Going back to the Dutch original, Henrietta Ten Harmsel (PHH 61) thoroughly revised the Brink translation in 1984 for the Psalter Hymnal.

The text contrasts the changing character and frailty of human life with the everlasting love of our changeless God. Though "life's dangers overwhelm us," we have confidence in God's guidance and protection. The text helps us to give voice to our own trust in divine providence, to bring comfort to those in distress, and to express our hope for "everlasting peace."

Rhijnvis Feith received a law degree from the University of Leiden in 1770 and was mayor of Zwolle. An ardent Dutch patriot and a man of letters who lamented the Napoleonic occupation of the Netherlands, Feith wrote nineteen volumes of prose and poetry, much of it highly romantic, as well as theological and philosophic essays. He also wrote a number of hymns, thirty-five of which were included in the Dutch hymnal Evangelische Gezangen (1806), which he helped to compile.

Leonard P. Brink, a graduate of Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1900), spent much of his life as a missionary among the Navajo people. He translated Bible books and hymns into the Navajo language and wrote a catechism for the Navajo people. He also translated Dutch poetry and hymns into English.

Liturgical Use:
Old Year's Eve services; worship that focuses on God's providence; funerals; church anniversaries.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Originally a folk song ("Sollen nun die grünen Jahre") dating from around 1700, O DU LIEBE MEINER LIEBE was used as a hymn tune in the Catholic hymnal Bambergisches Gesangbuch (1732). The tune name is the incipit of the text to which it was set in Johann Thommen's Erbaulicher Musicalischer Christen-Schatz oder 500 Geistliche Lieder (1745). The Psalter Hymnal version is from a manuscript chorale book of the Moravian Brethren compiled in Herrnhut in 1735.

The tune is a rounded bar form (AABA) with simple stepwise melodic motion. Sing in harmony. Another harmonization in G major (see 513) could provide an alternative setting, perhaps for a higher and fuller sound on stanza 4.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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