The story has been the subject of debate for the last hundred years, with many scholars now rejecting it for one reason or another, but it will go on nevertheless. Whether or not there was an actual sheltering rock, Toplady may also have taken his inspiration from 1 Corinthians 10:4: For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.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 me from its guilt and pow'r.
Should my tears forever flow,
Should my zeal no languor know,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
And behold thee on thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
Augustus Montague Toplady, 1776; alt.
Tune: TOPLADY (184.108.40.206.7.7.)
Robert Hastings, 1830
Toplady's text has been much altered in may hymnbooks since its first appearance in the Gospel Magazine in April 1776. Probably the first change was in the final verse, which originally read "when my eye-strings break in death." The tune by Robert Hastings is nearly always used in the US, but in other parts of the world they sing it to REDHEAD. Regardless of text or tune changes, this hymn has ranked at or near the top of many hymn surveys over the last hundred years.