Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me, the Song and the Story

Composer Augustus Montague Toplady

Augustus Montague Toplady (1740 to 1778), was an unusual child. His father died when he was very young and so he was raised by his mother who adored and spoiled him. He was not very well liked by his peers or his relatives, partly because they did not relate to his extreme intelligence, and partly because he was sickly and neurotic.

Controversy followed Toplady throughout his short 38 years of life, but he did not let that stop him. At a very young age he showed a keen interest in developing a relationship with God. By age 12 he was preaching sermons, and at age 14 he began writing hymns. He was ordained as an Anglican priest at the age of 22. Although some thought him to be arrogant and obstinate, excerpts from his writings verify that he was a devoted and humble follower of Christ.

Rock of Ages

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 from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

The Lord is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer.” (Psalm 18:2)