ROCK OF AGES                                                                                         written in 1763

The Story

This hymn seems to be a calming hymn, but it was written by a feisty man named Augustus Toplady. He was converted under a Methodist evangelist while attending the University of Dublin. .. and Augustus decided to prepare for the ministry.

Traditionally, it is held that Augusts drew his inspiration for this hymn from an incident in the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills in England. Augustus, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was travelling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics.

Augustus was impressed with the spirit of Methodism, but he strongly disagreed with the Wesleyan theology; in fact, he waged a running battle with the Wesleys through tracts, sermons, and even hymns. He said, “Wesley is guilty of Satan’s shamelessness.” Wow! In return, Wesley responded by saying, “I do not fight with chimney sweeps.”

Augustus wrote “Rock of Ages” to conclude a magazine article in which he emphasized that, just as England could never repay its national debt, so human beings – through our own efforts – could never satisfy the eternal justice of God.

Augustus died of tuberculosis and overwork at the age of 38, just 2 years after he published his own hymnal in which “Rock of Ages” (written by Toplady) and “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” (written by Wesley) were side by side.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and make it your own prayer for security!

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee;
let the water and the blood, from Thy riven side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure; cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labour of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
could my zeal no respite know… could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling;
naked, come to Thee for dress… helpless, look to Thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Saviour, or I die!

While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.


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