Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

Full Text

1 Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ, our head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion's help forever
and our confidence alone.

2 To this temple, where we call you,
come, O Lord of hosts, and stay;
come with all your lovingkindness,
hear your people as they pray,
and your fullest benediction
shed within these walls today.

3 Here bestow on all your servants
what they seek from you to gain.
What they gain from you, forever
with the blessed to retain;
and hereafter in your glory
evermore with you to reign.

4 Praise and honor to the Father,
praise and honor to the Son,
praise and honor to the Spirit,
ever three and ever one:
one in might and one in glory
while unending ages run!

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

See Matthew 16:13-20.
For the “cornerstone” in stanza 1, see Isaiah 28:16-19 and Ephesians 2:19-22.
For the “benediction” in stanza 2, see Numbers 6:22-27 and II Corinthians 13:14.

For the reign of believers, in stanza 3, see Revelation 4-5.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Stanza 4 is doxological, giving praise to all three members of the Trinity. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Question and Answer 24 and 25, and Belgic Confession, Article 8 give a clear and succinct statement about the Trinity: “all three are one in truth and power, in goodness and mercy.”


Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

Tune Information

G Major



Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

Hymn Story/Background

The tune, WESTMINSTER ABBEY was composed by Henry Purcell. WESTMINSTER ABBEY comes from the concluding "alleluias" in Purcell's verse anthem "O God, thou art my God" (c. 1692). That anthem was published in William Boyce's Cathedral Music, vol. 2, 1760. Ernest Hawkins arranged the "alleluias" as a hymn tune for use in Vincent Novello's The Psalmist (1843). The tune achieved great popularity after its publication in the 1939 Shortened Music Edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern and after its use at several British royal weddings. Often associated with "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation," WESTMINSTER ABBEY is named after the famous cathedral in London. Originally in B-flat, Purcell's tune was transposed down in Hawkins's arrangement; consequently some adjustments were made in the part writing. This magnificent tune requires spirited singing and a fairly lively tempo. Yet the tempo should be majestic, swinging in two large beats per measure. Have the choir sing one stanza unaccompanied for variety.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

John Mason Neale's (b. London, England, January 24, 1818; d. East Grinstead, England, August 6, 1866) life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly tem­perament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackville College in East Grinstead, a retirement home for poor men. There he served the men faithfully and expanded Sackville's ministry to indigent women and orphans. He also founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret, which became one of the finest English training orders for nurses.
Laboring in relative obscurity, Neale turned out a prodigious number of books and articles on liturgy and church history, including A History of the So-Called Jansenist Church of Holland (1858); an account of the Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht and its break from Rome in the 1700s; and his scholarly Essays on Liturgiology and Church History 1863). Neale contributed to church music by writing original hymns, including two volumes of Hymns for Children (1842, 1846), but especially by translating Greek and Latin hymns into English. These translations appeared in Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1851, 1863, 1867), The Hymnal Noted (1852, 1854), Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862), and Hymns Chiefly Medieval (1865). Because a number of Neale's translations were judged unsingable, editors usually amended his work, as evident already in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modem; Neale claimed no rights to his texts and was pleased that his translations could contribute to hymnody as the "common property of Christendom."
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Henry Purcell (b. Westminster, London, England, 1659; d. Westminster, 1695), was perhaps the greatest English composer who ever lived, though he only lived to the age of thirty-six. Purcell's first piece was published at age eight when he was also a chorister in the Chapel Royal. When his voice changed in 1673, he was appointed assistant to John Hingston, who built chamber organs and maintained the king's instruments. In 1674 Purcell began tuning the Westminster Abbey organ and was paid to copy organ music. Given the position of composer for the violins in 1677, he also became organist at Westminster Abbey in 1679 (at age twenty) and succeeded Hingston as maintainer of the king's instruments (1683). Purcell composed music for the theater (Dido and Aeneas, c. 1689) and for keyboards, provided music for royal coronations and other ceremonies, and wrote a substantial body of church music, including eighteen full anthems and fifty-six verse anthems.
— Bert Polman
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