How Firm a Foundation

I’ve heard people refer to the classic hymns as being “old school”, meaning their tunes and style render them out of sync with today’s church. And while I can sympathize with their desire to have a more upbeat feel to the singing part of worship, I am a little sad that they don’t see the value of the old school. New isn’t always better, and in terms of today’s “worship music” it is sometimes worse. I think the question that has to be asked is why God ordained the singing of hymns, psalms and spiritual songs in the worship service at all. Was it so we could be corporately gratified by the beat that makes us want to sway a little and maybe raise our hands? Or could it be that He knew the power of music to help us memorize important words? Or is the scripture also too “old school” to be relevant? My favorite worship songs, whether old or new, are the ones packed full of scriptural truth. When I am reminded of all the promises of God that are “yes” and “amen”, it doesn’t really matter if there is instrumentals of any era – I want to sway and raise my hands. Our church has compiled a book of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs that run the gamut of musical style. The common denominator of these songs is that they all speak the profound truth of scripture. One of my favorites in that book is this one, which happens to be old (1787 to be exact). I love that the scripture references for each verse are also recorded, so I can enrich my knowledge and understanding by reading them in context. So I don’t care what tune you use, or if you sing it acapella, with a guitar and drum, or with a whole freakin’ orchestra, this song may be old, but the truth will still be relevant when my grandchildren are dead and buried. 

 

How Firm a Foundation

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?

(Ephesians 2:20)

In every condition — in sickness, in health,

In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth

At home, or abroad, on land, on the sea,

“As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be”

(Deuteronomy 33:25)

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed;

For I am Thy God and will still give the aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10)

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;

For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

(Isaiah 43:2a)

“When through 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.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

“E’en down to old age all my people shall prove

My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.”

(Isaiah 46:4)

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

(Hebrews 13:5)

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14 Responses to How Firm a Foundation

  1. Emily Day says:

    Love! Thank you for posting. I had never read the scriptures with the song. Thankful for these truths, comforts, reminder of our One foundation.

  2. Cindy V says:

    It’s been one of my favorites for ‘lo, these many years’

  3. lizzigroves says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I am often more focused on the music and what my own voice sounds like then really paying attention to the words. It is good to just sit and read them and be reminded of the true purpose of worship. I also appreciated the fact that you used the word “freakin'” in this post. Abby will be so proud.

  4. Brenda Keck says:

    What powerful words! People are standing in their kitchens right now lifting hands and swaying after reading this!! (I may or may not be talking about myself.)

  5. So funny that you picked this song to talk about. It is the biggest inspiration for my book right now because of all the lies Sky is believing. I just keep singing it over and over. Also….as my parents get older the lines about:
    “E’en down to old age all my people shall prove
    My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
    And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
    Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.”
    mean so much too me!!!
    So, this song holds a very dear dear place in my heart. And yes, the first thing I thought was, “Dude! She used “freaking!!!”
    My work here is done – dusting off hands.

  6. christina says:

    Love the hymn, but even though I grew up singing it the second and penultimate verses here are new to me. The other thing that saddens me about old hymns is that when we do sing them, so often words are changed here and there to make them easier to understand. Sadly, it also tends to water down the meaning or forfeit an opportunity to explain something important and Biblical (case in point: “Ebenezer”).

    So I should have been shocked you wrote “freakin'”? Huh. Clearly I don’t know you well enough. We must drink more tea together so I can be shocked at the appropriate moments. 🙂

    I was already thinking I needed some time with my hymnal today but haven’t done it yet. Time now before lunch!

    (By the way, I asked A. if the words “Never Tease a Weasel” meant anything to him. He smirked and said, “No, but I have a feeling it has something to do with a blog post my sister wrote.” Made me laugh. He’s onto us!)

  7. Yes, it bothers me when someone’s lyrics are “dumbed down” to accommodate the masses. I also hate when verses are omitted. Come Thou Fount has other verses I did not know about, but since I wanted to talk about Ebenezers, I didn’t want to get side tracked with that.
    What you must understand is that Abby and Liz are the age of my children, so their first impression of me was that of a home schooling mom who was pretty careful with her choice of words. It was never that I was so perfect, it was always that I had children to influence. My children are old, and I am too tired to worry now. It gives them ever so much pleasure when I “slip”. Having said that, more tea with you would be great and would probably result in you being shocked at nothing I do anymore:)
    Cuts me to the core that A does not remember the many, many, many hours with that book! But then he was always a “Ricochet Rabbit” (another book we read him about a rabbit who ricocheted off of everything with a ping.)

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