Words: James Montgomery (1771–1854). The date of this hymn is unknown, but it appeared in Christian Hymns: Adapted to the Worship of God Our Savior in Public and Private Devotion, by the Central Universalist Society (Boston, Massachusetts: Charles Crocker, 1823).
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God is our refuge and defense;
In trouble our unfailing aid;
Secure in His omnipotence,
What foe can make our souls afraid?
Yea, though the earth’s foundations rock,
And mountains down the gulf be hurled,
His people smile amid the shock:
They look beyond this transient world.
There is a river pure and bright,
Whose streams make glad the heavenly plains;
Where, in eternity of light,
The city of our God remains.
Built by the Word of His command,
With His unclouded presence blest,
Firm as His throne the bulwarks stand,
There is our home, our hope, our rest.
Thither let fervent faith aspire;
Our treasure and our heart be here;
O for a seraph’s wings of fire!
No—on the mightier wings of prayer—
We reach at once that last retreat,
And, ranged among the ransomed throng,
Fall with the elders at His feet,
Whose name along inspires their song.
Ah, soon; how soon! our spirits droop;
Unwont the air of Heaven to breathe:
Yet God in very deed will stoop,
And dwell Himself with men beneath.
Come to thy living temples, then,
As in the ancient times appear;
Let earth be paradise again,
And man, O God, thine image here.