THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION written in 1866
Windsor on the Thames, with its royal castle, is one of England’s most popular tourist attractions. Samuel Stone (1839-1900) – who wrote this hymn – ministered in this village, among the poorer parts of town.
Samuel was a fighter. He stood up for what he believed, and when the local “toughs” threatened the neighborhood, he was not afraid to take them on. The same was true when it came to doctrine in the church. In the Church of England, Samuel was regarded as a fundamentalist, opposing the liberal theological tendencies of his day.
This song was written as a direct response to the unorthodox teaching of John William Colenso, first Bishop of Natal, which created schism within the Church of South Africa. This topic is alluded to within the fourth verse of the text “Though with a scornful wonder, men see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.” When Bishop Colenso was deposed for his teachings, he appealed to the higher ecclesiastical authorities in England. That’s when Samuel Stone, a priest in the Church, became involved in the debate.
When Samuel was 27-years-old, he wrote a collection of hymns based on the Apostles’ Creed. This hymn, taken from that collection, is based on that part of the Creed regarding the Church as the Body of Christ.
Two years later, Anglicans from around the world met to discuss the crucial theological issues that were buzzing in the Church. Significantly, they chose Samuel’s hymn as the processional for their historic conference.
Read this hymn, and – today – reaffirm what you believe based on God’s Word.
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
She is His new creation by water and the Word.
From heav’n He came and sought Her to be His holy bride;
with His own blood He bought Her and for Her life He died.
She is from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy Name She blesses, partakes one holy food,
and to one hope She presses, with every grace endued.
The Church shall never perish! Her dear Lord to defend,
to guide, sustain, and cherish, is with Her to the end:
though there be those who hate Her, and false sons in Her pale,
against both foe or traitor She ever shall prevail.
Though with a scornful wonder, men see Her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed:
yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song!
’Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of Her war,
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
till, with the vision glorious, Her longing eyes are blest,
and the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.
Yet She on earth hath union with God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won;
with all Her sons and daughters who, by the Master’s hand
led through the deathly waters, repose in Eden land.
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains, where in sweet vales the Bride
with Thee by living fountains forever shall abide!