How Firm a Foundation
- First Line
- How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord
- Text Source
- J. Rippon's <cite>Selection of Hymns</cite>, 1787, alt.
- Tune Name
- Dale Grotenhuis, 1931-2012 (1985)
- Tune Source
- J. Funk's <cite>A Compilation of Genuine Church Music,</cite> 1832
- Assurance · Powers of Darkness · Difficult Times · God's: Faithfulness · Jesus Christ: Presence · Jesus Christ: Rock · Trials · Victory
- Text Copyright
- Public Domain
- Tune Copyright
- Harm. © 1987 Faith Alive Christian Resources
- Reprint/Projection Information
1 How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
2 "Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
3 "When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
for I will be with you in trouble to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
4 "When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.
5 "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!"
- st. 1 =
- st. 2 =
- st. 3 =
- st. 5 =
Further Reflections on Scripture References
Based on Isaiah 43: 1-5, this text was given the heading “Exceeding great and precious Promises. II Peter 3:4” in John Rippon's A Selection of Hymns (1787). The author was listed simply as "K" Although some scholars are not convinced of this attribution, "K" presumably refers to Richard Keen, song leader in the London church where Rippon was minister. With minor alterations, stanzas 1, 3-5, and 7 are included from the original seven stanzas.
"How Firm a Foundation" is a noble text, full of comfort for God's people whose "foundation" of faith is rooted in the Word (st. 1) and whose lives experience divine protection when they face "deep waters" and "fiery trials" (st. 2-4). The final stanza clearly moves beyond the text's Old Testament source and proclaims the certainty of redemption in Christ.
Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Confessions and Statements of Faith References
Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References
Difficult times occur in the lives and communities of God’s people because this is a fallen world. The confessions demonstrate this perspective:
- Belgic Confession, Article 15 teaches that “…by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race…a corruption of the whole human nature...” As a result, God’s people are “guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all [our] ways” (Article 14). In addition, “The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions” (Article 12).
- Our World Belongs to God continues to affirm that “God has not abandoned the work of his hands,” nevertheless “our world, fallen into sin, has lost its first goodness...” (paragraph 4). And now “all spheres of life—family and friendship, work and worship school and state, play and art—bear the wounds of our rebellion” (paragraph 16).
Yet, in a fallen world, God’s providential care is the source of great assurance, comfort and strength. Through these thoughts, our trust in God is inspired.
- Belgic Confession, Article 13 is a reminder that God’s providence reassures us that God leads and governs all in this world “according to his holy will…nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.” Further, this Confession identifies that this “gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care...in this thought we rest.”
- Belgic Confession, Article 13, is a reminder that much is beyond human understanding and so “we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.”
- In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 we testify that we “trust God so much that [we] do not doubt that he will provide whatever [we] need for body and soul and will turn to [our] good whatever adversity he sends upon [us] in this sad world.”
- In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 28, we are assured that through our trust in the providence of God we can have “good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.”
- When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask not to be brought into the time of trial but rescued from evil. In doing so we ask that the Lord will “uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 127)
Belgic Confession, Article 26 speaks about the intercession of Christ as the ascended Lord. “We have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” We, therefore, do not offer our prayers as though saints could be our intercessor, nor do we offer them on the “basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Because Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest, we approach the throne “in full assurance of faith.”
No greater assurance can be found than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “I am not my own by I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
In all difficult times, we eagerly await the final day when God “will set all things right, judge evil, and condemn the wicked” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57).
How Firm a Foundation
How Firm a Foundation
- John Karl Hirten has arranged a meditative setting for SATB, keyboard, and optional handbell (GIA G-3223).
- Emma Lou Diemer has arranged the hymn for SATB and congregation with organ and optional brass and percussion; the fourth stanza features a choral canon and the fifth verse includes a descant (Hinshaw HMC 527).
- John Rutter has written a setting for SATB choir with organ that lends itself well to concertato use for choir and congregation. This piece includes a descant and an excellent free harmonization for the final stanza (Hinshaw HMC 667).
- Margaret Cowen simply and efficiently arranged the tune for 4 octave handbells (Psaltery Music Publications M4-8, available through Jeffers Handbell Supply, Inc.).
- The congregation and choir sings stanza 1 as it appears in the hymnal.
- Stanza 2 is sung in unison, accapella, with accompaniment by handbells free ringing a quarter-note pattern, using only the five notes of the melody, in any octave range.
- The choir sings stanza 3 in a 2-part canon, men beginning, women following one measure later.
- The choir sings stanza 4 in a 4-part canon—basses, sopranos, tenors, and altos each entering after one measure. Both of these stanzas (3 and 4) have a canonically arranged organ accompaniment available in Donald Busarow's All Praise to You, Eternal God (Augsburg 11-9076).
- Following a brief organ interlude which includes a modulation (see example given), the congregation joins the choir in unison on stanza 5. John Rutter's free harmonization and descant (played by trumpet) taken from the final stanza of his hymn-anthem provides a stirring accompaniment. Each stanza musically builds on the previous one in terms of intensity, reaching a climax in the powerful exclamation of the final stanza. It provides a strong congregational response in a Reformation Festival Service.