Ascension Lutheran Church – Citrus Heights, CA – Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA

Hymn of the Week for February 5, 2023 – How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in Christ Jesus, the Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said
who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

… or is it … 

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word!
What more can be said than to you God hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

It is unclear who actually wrote this 1787 hymn text, number 128 in John Rippon’s A Selection of Hymns.  In that collection, this hymn text is attributed simply to K.  Most likely, this text was written by Robert Keen (Keene), the precentor of Carter Lane Baptist Church in London while Rippon was also serving there.  They would have had access to each other’s work, making for an easy collaborative process.  There are a few other potential authors of this text, but each of those are much less likely than Keene to be the actual author of this text.

The tune most often used with this text is FOUNDATION; however, the lineage of this text and tune association is almost as up in the air as the authorship of the text itself.  In the well-known collection Southern Harmony, this tune appears under the name CHRISTIAN’S FAREWELL, but with a different text.  The text we know is included with tunes SINCERITY and SOLICITUDE.  In the collection Sacred Harp, this text and tune are paired together, but the tune is named BELLEVUE.

The words may change and the sources may be ambiguous, but the sentiment is the same.  Christ Jesus the Word is indeed our firm foundation!