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Rock of Ages

posted Mar 20, 2013, 1:23 PM by Jamie Washam

Augustus Toplady’s hymn, Rock of Ages, is likely familiar to most churchgoers. It sings of God’s refuge and provision. In these days surrounding Easter, I invite us into a deeper meditation on what it says, and how it came to be written. According to The Worshipping Church, the hymnal we regularly use in our services, the hymn debuted in The Gospel Magazine in March 1776, as the conclusion to an article that alleged that England would never be able to repay its national debts. He drew a parallel to the ways that we are unable to repay the debt of our sins by our efforts. Atonement comes through the work and grace of Christ. It has nothing  to do with individual merit, and all to do with the nature of God’s love. As a nation struggling with the appropriate response to our collective debt, how do we hear and sing this centuries-old hymn?

 


Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood,

from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure;

save from wrath and make me pure.

 

Not the labors of my hands

can fulfill thy law's commands;

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 the cross I cling;

naked, come to thee for dress;

helpless, look to thee for grace;

foul, I to the fountain fly;

wash me, Savior, 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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