HYMN OF THE MONTH
How Firm a Foundation
Author: K. (1787); Author (attributed to): George Keith (1787); Author (attributed to): R. Keen (c. 1787)
Free Hymn Study Devotional Guide
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not; I am with thee. Oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.
When thro' the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When thro' fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
E'en down to old age all My people shall prove
My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, tho' all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.
CLAIM A PROMISE
Name at least one promise from God you've claimed or you're ready to claim during difficult times.
Reflect a moment on the truth found in this hymn and learn more about its historical background.
BEHIND THE HYMN
One of America's best-loved hymns, "How Firm a Foundation" has a bit of mystery surrounding it.
The hymn was first published in 1787 in a hymnbook edited by John Rippon titled A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors. In this hymnal, it was attributed only to “K—.”
Many of thought this to be a reference to Robert Keene, a close friend and pastor of John Rippon, while others have surmised other possibilities.
While we may not know for certain the writer behind the hymn, we can know for certain the biblical truths that saturate it, all pointing to the truth that the Word of God is indeed our firm foundation.
And while we may not known the story behind its origin, we know other stories connected to this theologically rich hymn.
One account took place during the Spanish-American war which occurred about 30 years after the end of the US Civil War, and tensions between the North and the South were still high.
On Christmas Eve, 1898, an entire corps of the United States Army sang it while encamped near Havana, Cuba.
Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis Guild, Jr. shared his first-hand experience in a 1901 edition of The Sunday School Times. Guild wrote,
On Christmas eve of 1898 I sat before my tent in the balmy tropical night [near Havana] chatting with a fellow-officer of Christmas and home.
Suddenly from the camp of the Forty-ninth Iowa rang a sentinel’s call, “Number ten; twelve o’clock, and all’s well!” It was Christmas morning. Scarcely had the cry of the sentinel died away, when from the bandsmen’s tents of that same regiment there rose the music of an old, familiar hymn, and one clear baritone voice led the chorus that quickly ran along those moonlit fields: ‘How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord!’
Another voice joined in, and another, and another, and in a moment the whole regiment was singing, and then the Sixth Missouri joined in, with the Fourth Virginia, and all the rest, till there, on the long ridges above the great city whence Spanish tyranny once went forth to enslave the New World, a whole American army corps was singing –
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed;
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.