November 30, 2020

A Hymn for Ordinary Time (6): Another for Bible Week

'Golubac Fortress - Golubac, Serbia' photo (c) 2009, Jim Trodel - license: Chaplain Mike

As I’ve thought about hymns to go with our Bible Week emphasis, it strikes me that there are not many songs we sing about the Bible. And that is how it should be. For the point of the Bible is not to point to itself but to the One who revealed his Word to us and who acts in grace toward us in accord with his promises.

One of the great hymns that references the Scriptures is “How Firm a Foundation.” However, only the first verse speaks of the Bible as our foundation. The rest of the lyrics are words from God’s own mouth, reassurances of his unfailing covenant love for his own in Jesus. These words of comfort come to a climax in the magnificent final verse, in which he promises “never, no never, never” to forsake us.

How Firm a Foundation (1787)

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,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

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.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.


  1. That hymn has left me teary-eyed more than once.

  2. Highwayman says

    It’s never occurred to me before (I’ve always automatically assumed it was meant the way you read it), but seeing the capital letter on ‘Word’ in the second line of the verse 1 has prompted me to wonder whether it might equally be referring to ‘Word’ as in John ch.1, i.e. THE WORD = Logos = the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Just a thought – probably wrong, but if it helps ponder what our faith is based on, perhaps not a bad one?

  3. David Cornwell says

    One of my very favorite hymns. Just to read the words again brings one to sense the power and comfort that comes to us in the Word. And it’s wonderful to hear it sung in a congregation which loves to sing. These are words that find a home in memory and stay with us throughout life i.e. if we are blessed enough in childhood to hear this hymn sung in church.

  4. I agree with Highwayman–I’ve always thought that “Word” in the hymn referred to Jesus, the Word Incarnate…the foundation of all our hope and faith.

  5. Also, to my mind, one of the best recordings of that hymn is done by Fernando Ortega.

  6. It’s “funny” how many times I thought Jesus had forsaken me, only to look back and discover with wonder and realize He was tight there with me.

    He never promised he would keep me safe, guard me from sorrow and pain, did HE? He just ptomised to me WITH me.

    I now cry every time I sing those words ‘cuz I know they are true.