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July 24, 2019

"How Firm a Foundation" by Diana Leagh Matthews

Hymn Stories by Diana Leagh Matthews
The New Year is upon us, bringing new beginnings and new hopes and dreams for the future.

However, regardless of where life takes us, one thing is for sure. We need a firm foundation.
How Firm a Foundation was published in 1787 by John Rippon. When it appeared in Rippon’s ‘A Selection of Hymns,’ it was signed simply “K.”
All efforts to identify this mysterious “K” have been fruitless, and the mystery remains to this day.
Some reprints show the author was “Keene.” Dr. Rippon’s musical director was R. Keene and it’s believed he might be the author of the text, although it’s just speculation.
Dr. Rippon was the pastor at Carter’s Lane Baptist Church in London, England for sixty-three years. The tune is thought to be from an old English folk tune.
Each verse was based on a passage of promises in the Bible. Verse one was based on Isaiah 41:10 {Fear not, I am with you}; verse two is based on Isaiah 43:2 {I will be with you.}
Verse three is based on 2 Corinthians 12:9 {My Grace is sufficient for thee}, and verse four is based on Hebrews 13:5 {I will never leave nor forsake you}.
How Firm a Foundation was the favorite hymn of General Robert E. Lee, President Theodore Roosevelt, and President Andrew Jackson.
“The story is told that once when the crowds were thus assembled, President Jackson called out to a local minister:
‘There is a beautiful hymn on the subject of the exceeding great and precious promises of God to His people. It was a favorite with my dear wife until the day of her death. It commences thus: ‘How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord! I wish you would sing now.”
And so, to please and give comfort to an aging former president, the whole assembly sang the entire hymn.
We are reminded in the hymn that we can run to Jesus in refuge, He will hold our hands and strengthen us, and no matter how difficult our circumstances the Lord is our foundation to get through and refine us into the person He wants us to be.
On Christmas Eve 1898, American units involved in the Spanish–American War joined together to sing this hymn, finding comfort in the promises the author wrote, during a difficult time.
Do you have a firm foundation in the Lord?

This article first appeared in the JANUARY 2019 issue of the RUBY Magazine (you can see that issue below)

Diana Leagh Matthews writes, speaks and sings to bring glory to God.  She has been published in numerous anthologies, including many Moments books. In her day job, Leagh is a Nationally Certified Activities Director for a busy nursing facility. She takes great joy in family, friends and soaking in the beautiful wonders and promises of God. Leagh blogs about her faith and struggles on her  website  www.DianaLeaghMatthews.com and family history at www.ALookThruTime.com

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