Rock of Ages (Christian hymn)
Name = Rock of Ages
MusicBy = Thomas Hastings
Augustus Montague Toplady
Published = 1775
OrigLanguage = English
TradMelodyName = Toplady
"Rock of Ages" is a popular
Christian hymnby Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady. It can be sung to the hymn tunes "Toplady" by Thomas Hastings or "Redhead 76" by Richard Redhead. The words of the hymn were written in 1763 and first published in " The Gospel Magazine" in 1775, with the music added in around 1830.
According to a famous but largely unsubstantiated story, Rev. Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the famous gorge of
Burrington Combe, a Mendipgorge close to Cheddar Gorgein England. Toplady, 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 on a playing card.
The fissure that is believed to have sheltered Toplady is now marked as the ‘Rock of Ages’, both on the rock itself and on some maps, and is also reflected in the name of a nearby tea shop.
OthersFact|date=September 2007 have viewed the hymn as a criticism of the theology of
John Wesleyand the early Methodists, citing the line, ‘Thou must save, and Thou alone’. This line was believed to refer to the Wesleyan notion that human beings may exercise free will and thus play a role in salvation, an idea which Toplady and his Calvinist colleagues rejected.
The hymn was a favourite of Prince Albert, who asked it to be played to him on his deathbed, as did Confederate General
J.E.B. Stuart. It was also played at the funeral of William Ewart Gladstone.cite web
title=Rock of ages
In his book "Hymns That Have Helped", W. T. Stead reported "when the "London" went down in the
Bay of Biscay, 11 January 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".
"When my eyelids close in death" was originally written as "When my eye-strings break in death". [Barkeley, J.M. (1979) Handbook to the Church Hymnary, 3 ed. London: Oxford University Press, p.96]
* [http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/rockofages.html The story behind "Rock of Ages" and a brief biography of Toplady]
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