Rock Of Ages

Album: Sings America's Favorite Hymns (1775)

Songfacts®:

  • This timeless hymn was written by the Anglican curate, Reverend Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) after taking a walk at Burrington Combe, a steep limestone valley with many caves in Somerset, South West England. A mighty thunderstorm blew up and the curate found an opening in an immense granite rock, in which he sheltered from the storm. This inspired the imagery of Christ as a sheltering rock. The hymn was first published in the Gospel Magazine in 1775, some 12 years after Toplady wrote it.
  • Despite being converted under a Methodist evangelist while attending the University of Dublin, the Calvinist Toplady rejected Charles and John Wesleys' theology and waged a running battle with them through tracts, sermons, and even hymns. He later softened his stance a little and two years before he died of tuberculosis and overwork at the age of thirty-eight, Toplady published his own hymnal, in which this classic hymn and Charles Wesley's "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" were placed side by side.
  • The hymn was a favourite of Prince Albert, who asked it to be played to him on his deathbed, as did Confederate Genera J.E.B. Stuart. The British Prime Minister William Gladstone did a Latin translation 'Jesus, pro me perforatus' and it was later played at his funeral.
  • The hymn is usually sung to the tune of "Toplady" by the American composer Thomas Hastings (1784-1872).
  • Many gospel and inspirational artists have recorded versions of this hymn including Johnny Cash, Patti Page, Chris Rice and Mahalia Jackson.

Comments: 1

  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrThis hymn was allegedly a favorite of Mary Ann Cotton in her childhood days. In 1873, while a chaplain rang a single church bell at West Auckland Parish Church, Mary Ann sang it in her cell at Durham County Jail, shortly before being hanged in a botched execution by William Calcraft, for the crime of murder by arsenic poisoning of up to 21 members of her family.
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