Rock of Ages

Sir Will­iam Hen­ry Wills, in a let­ter to Dean Le­froy, pub­lished in the [Lon­don] Times in June, 1898, says ‘Top­la­dy was one day over­tak­en by a thun­der­storm in Bur­ring­ton Coombe, on the edge of my prop­er­ty, Blag­don, a rocky glen run­ning up in­to the heart of the Men­dip range, and there, tak­ing shel­ter be­tween two mass­ive piers of our na­tive lime­stone rock, he penned the hymn,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

There is a pre­ci­pi­tous crag of lime­stone a hun­dred feet high, and right down its cen­tre is the deep re­cess in which Top­la­dy shel­tered.’ – Telford, p. 257

This hymn was sung at the fun­e­ral of Prime Minister Will­iam Glad­stone in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, Eng­land. Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband) of Britain asked it be sung to him as he lay dy­ing. In Hymns That Have Helped, W. T. Stead stated:

…when the Lon­don went down in the Bay of Bis­cay, Jan­u­ary 11, 1866, the last thing which the last man who left the ship heard as the boat pushed off from the doomed vess­el was the voic­es of the pass­en­gers sing­ing “Rock of Ag­es.”

In ano­ther sto­ry:

A missionary complained of the slow prog­ress made in In­dia in con­vert­ing the na­tives on ac­count of ex­plain­ing the teach­ings of Christ­i­an­i­ty so that the ig­no­rant peo­ple could un­der­stand them. Some of the most beau­ti­ful pass­ag­es in the Bi­ble, for in­stance are de­stroyed by trans­la­tion. He at­tempt­ed to have [Rock of Ages] trans­lat­ed in­to the na­tive di­a­lect, so that the na­tives might ap­pre­ci­ate its beau­ty. The work was en­trust­ed to a young Hi­ndu Bi­ble stu­dent who had the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing some­thing of a po­et. The next day he brought his trans­la­tion for ap­prov­al, and his ren­der­ing, as trans­lat­ed back in­to Engl­ish, read like this: ‘Very old stone, split for my ben­e­fit, Let me ab­sent my­self under one of your frag­ments.’ – Jones

The hymn was al­so re­port­ed­ly sung at the fun­er­al of Amer­i­can Pre­si­dent Ben­ja­min Har­ri­son be­cause it was his fa­vo­rite hymn, and the on­ly one he ev­er tried to sing.

HT: Rock of Ages – Cyber Hymnal

One thought on “Rock of Ages

  1. The Lord is our Rock and strong tower and ever present help, our refuge and hiding place from the wrath of God which is being stored up tp poured out on the disobedient of the world who know not the Lamb. What a wonderful picture of the security we have in Christ!

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