Words: Un­known au­thor.

Music: Closer Walk, tra­di­tion­al folk song.


I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Refrain

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

Refrain

When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

Refrain

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: Au­gus­tus M. Top­la­dy, 1776.

Music: Toplady, Thom­as Hast­ings, 1830. Al­ter­nate tunes:

  • Cuyler, J. Hy­att Brew­er (1851-1931)
  • Redhead, Ri­chard Red­head, 1853

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 Will­iam Glad­stone in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, Eng­land. Prince Albert 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.


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 labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
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,
[originally When my eye-strings break 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.

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: Hen­ry Vaugh­an, Si­lex Scin­til­lans, or Sac­red Po­ems, 1650.

Music: Vul­pi­us, Mel­chi­or Vul­pi­us, Ein Schön Geist­lich Ge­sang­buch (Je­na, Ger­ma­ny: 1609).


My soul, there is a country,
Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingèd sentry,
All skillful in the wars.

There, above noise and danger,
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious Friend
And (O my soul, awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.

Leave, then, thy foolish ranges;
For none can thee secure
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy Life, thy Cure.

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: John Newton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779).

Music: St. Pe­ter (Rein­a­gle), Alex­an­der R. Rein­a­gle, Psalm Tunes for the Voice and Pi­an­o­for­te (Ox­ford, Eng­land: 1836). Al­ter­nate tunes:

  • Heber, George Kings­ley, 1838 
  • Ortonville, Thom­as Hast­ings, 1837 

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: Will­iam Cow­per, in Twen­ty-six Let­ters on Re­li­gious Sub­jects, by John New­ton, 1774. It is re­port­ed­ly the last hymn Cow­per ev­er wrote, with a fas­cin­at­ing (though un­sub­stan­ti­at­ed) story be­hind it.

Cow­per oft­en strug­gled with de­press­ion and doubt. One night he de­cid­ed to com­mit su­i­cide by drown­ing him­self. He called a cab and told the driv­er to take him to the Thames Riv­er. How­ev­er, thick fog came down and pre­vent­ed them from find­ing the riv­er (ano­ther ver­sion of the story has the driv­er get­ting lost de­liber­ate­ly). After driv­ing around lost for a while, the cab­by fin­al­ly stopped and let Cow­per out. To Cowper’s sur­prise, he found him­self on his own door­step: God had sent the fog to keep him from kill­ing him­self. Even in our black­est mo­ments, God watch­es over us.

Music: Dun­deeScot­tish Psal­ter, 1615. Al­ter­nate tunes:

  • Belmont, Will­iam Gar­din­er, 1812
  • London NewPsalms (Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land: 1635) 
  • Manoah, ar­ranged by Hen­ry W. Great­or­ex, 1851 
  • St. Anne, Will­iam Croft, 1708
  • Union, in Se­lect Num­ber of Plain Tunes, by An­drew Law, 1781; at­trib­ut­ed var­i­ous­ly to Ste­phen Jenks and An­drew Gil­let

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: James Montgomery, Poet’s Port­fo­lio, 1835.

Music: Terra Be­a­ta, tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish mel­o­dy, ar­ranged by Frank­lin L. Shep­pard in his Al­le­lu­ia, 1915. Al­ter­nate tune:

  • Nearer Home, Isaac B. Wood­bu­ry, 1852; har­mo­ny by Ar­thur S. Sul­li­van, 1874

“Forever with the Lord!”
Amen, so let it be!
Life from His death is in that word
’Tis immortality.
Here in the body pent,
Absent from Him I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day’s march nearer home

My Father’s house on high,
Home of my soul, how near
At times to faith’s foreseeing eye
Thy golden gates appear!
Ah! then my spirit faints
To reach the land I love,
The bright inheritance of saints,
Jerusalem above.

I hear at morn and even,
At noon and midnight hour,
The choral harmonies of Heaven
Earth’s Babel tongues o’erpower;
Then, then I feel that He,
Remembered or forgot,
The Lord, is never far from me,
Though I perceive Him not.

“Forever with the Lord!”
Forever in His will,
The promise of that faithful word,
Lord, here in me fulfill.
With You at my right hand,
Then I shall never fail;
Uphold me, Lord, and I shall stand,
Through grace I will prevail.

So when my latest breath
Breaks through the veil of pain,
By death I shall escape from death,
And life eternal gain.
That resurrection word,
That shout of victory:
Once more, “Forever with the Lord!”
Amen, so let it be!

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: Ka­tha­ri­na A. von Schle­gel, in Neue Samm­lung Geist­lich­er Lied­er, 1752 (Stille, meine Wille, dein Je­sus hilft sie­gen); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Jane L. Borth­wick in Hymns from the Land of Lu­ther, 1855.

Music: Fin­land­ia, Jean Si­bel­i­us, 1899. Al­ter­nate tune:

  • Unde et Memores, Will­iam H. Monk, 1875 

This hymn was re­port­ed­ly the fav­or­ite of Er­ic Lid­dell, the ath­lete who be­came fa­mous in the 1924 Olym­pics for re­fus­ing to run on the Sab­bath (see the mo­vie Char­i­ots of Fire). Lid­dell lat­er be­came a mis­sion­ary in Chi­na, and was im­pris­oned dur­ing World War II. He is said to have taught this hymn to others in the pri­son camp (where he event­u­al­ly died of a brain tu­mor).


Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: Will­iam C. Dix, Al­tar Songs, Vers­es on the Ho­ly Eu­cha­rist, 1867.

Music: Hyfrydol, Row­land H. Pri­chard, 1830. Al­ter­nate tunes:

  • Adoration (Lu­ard-Sel­by), Ber­tram Lu­ard-Sel­by, in Hymns An­cient and Mo­dern, 1904
  • Alleluia (Wes­ley), Sam­u­el S.Wes­ley, in the Eu­ro­pe­an Psalm­ist, 1872 

Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.

Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er
Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?

Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: John El­ler­ton, A Li­tur­gy for Mis­sion­a­ry Meet­ings, 1870. Queen Vic­tor­ia chose this hymn to be sung at the 60th an­ni­vers­a­ry of her reign in 1897; it was al­so sung at the cer­e­mo­ny when Bri­tain re­turned con­trol of Hong Kong to Chi­na in 1997.

Music: St. Cle­ment, Cle­ment C. Schole­field, writ­ten for this text, and ap­pear­ing in Church Hymns with Tunes, 1874. Al­ter­nate tune:

  • Com­mand­ments, Lou­is Bour­geois, 1543

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

(Commenting: OFF)

Words: Scot­tish Psal­ter, 1650.

Music: Cri­mond, Jes­sie S. Ir­vine, 1872. Al­ter­nate tunes:

  • Bel­mont, Will­iam Gar­din­er, 1812
  • Evan, Wil­liam H. Hav­er­gal, 1847; ar­ranged by Low­ell Ma­son, 1850
  • Mar­tyr­dom, Hugh Wil­son, 1800; ar­ranged by Ralph E. Hud­son, cir­ca 1885
  • Or­ling­ton, John Camp­bell (1807-1860)  (re­peats third line of each verse)
  • Wilt­shire, George T. Smart, 1795

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again;
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
Even for His own Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
And staff my comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnishèd
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

(Commenting: OFF)