1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy riven side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r.
2 Not the labors 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.
3 Nothing in my hand I bring;
simply to thy 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.
4 While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyelids 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.
Text: Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778
There is a legend that this hymn was penned by Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady in the late 18th century, when he was caught in a thunderstorm. It is said that he sheltered in a large hollow in a rock in a valley for protection. Today there is a marker on the supposed "Rock of Ages" near the village of Burrington in Somerset, England. The geological age of this rock goes back millennia.
Legend or not, the rock referenced in the hymn is timeless, just as God's protection is timeless. As Augustus Toplady hid in the rock for protection, we can "hide" ourselves in God's care in times of trouble. The psalmist says in this week's psalm, "You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble" (Psalm 32:7). The hymn's closing words -- "... when mine eyelids 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" -- assure us that even in death, God is present to protect us.