24 January 2008

Rock of Ages

When people my age and slightly older read the title of this post, most likely the first thing that came to mind was the Def Leppard song off of the Pyromania album. This post is not about that song.

Others of you may have thought about the Hymn as contained in the LDS Hymnal - published as number 111. This post is about that one.

It's actually about the text of that song, not the music. The original poem by Augustus Montague Toplady has four verses in it. The LDS hymnal omits the third verse, which is not my favorite verse anyway so I'm okay with that. The other interesting thing about the LDS version is that in the last verse some of the words are different from what I found to be in the original version of the text. I think that those changes make the prose so much better. I couldn't find any information on those changes, so I'm not going to get into the why's and how's of that. The poem was written in the mid-1700's and set to music in the 1800's by Thomas Hastings.

I've never been a superfan of the music of this hymn, and as such I have never really paid attention to the words as I have sung it. But as luck would have it, we are singing this song in the local Mormon choir (of an earlier post) for our Easter concert. The beauty of it all is that it's an arrangement of the song that is completely different from the tune in the hymn. It took a couple of practices to get the old tune out of my head as we were singing and just let the new tune flow.

As we were practicing tonight, the director called our attention to the lyrics in the last verse and talked about how poignant they were. I took the opportunity to read over them and think about them, and now I have a new found love for the song. The words are beautiful.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown
And behold thee on thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

There really is nothing more important in this life than coming to know Jesus Christ. We are all mortal and will one day pass through the veil into His presence. We will behold Him on His throne. And at that point, will we want to hide ourselves in Him, or hide ourselves from Him?


Potentate said...

I like that.

Do you think you'll be able to post a recording of the choir singing it?

Max Power said...

With any luck they will be recording the performance in March. If so, I will definitely share it with everyone.