Behind the Hymn Sunday: How Firm A 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

John Rippon

John Rippon

the author was Kenne. 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 pastor at Carter’s Lane Baptist Church in London 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 General Robert E. Lee’s, President Theodore Roosevelt and President How firmAndrew Jackson’s favorite hymn.

“The story is told that once, when the crowds were thus assembled, General 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 favourite 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.

On Christmas Eve 1898, American units involved in the Spanish–American War joined together to sing the hymn.

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