Sunday at church, we sang "How Firm a Foundation," a fitting hymn for the day, seeing how Clear Fork was organized 221 years ago this week.
"In ev’ry condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea
As thy days may demand
Shall thy strength ever be"
That is the second verse of the original lyrics to the hymn that was first published in London, England in 1787 in John Rippon's "A Selection of Hymns." It first appeared in America in Joseph Fund’s 1832 Genuine Church Music.
The hymn became much loved and adored. Just over a decade later, Andrew Jackson requested it be sung at his deathbed. It was sung at Confederate General Robert E. Lee's funeral in 1870. No doubt, though, it comforted people on both sides during the Civil War. It was sung by American troops on Christmas morning in 1898 during the Spanish-American war, and It was sung during the funerals of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt in 1919 and Woodrow Wilson in 1924.
Yet, with all of its notoriety, the author of the hymn is somewhat of a mystery. In the original publication in 1787, it was attributed simply to “K.” That "K" was most likely Robert Keene, who was the song leader in Rippon's church.
Regardless of the author, It is good to know that in today's world, no matter the circumstance, we can rely on God to provide us with a firm foundation to keep us calm and encouraged. God's love for us is rich and pure, measureless, strong and enduring. While I am blessed to be a part of one of the longest continuing church congregations in this region, I am more blessed to know that the foundation of god is my refuge.
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