Built on a rock the church of God

Representative Text

Built on a rock the church of God
Stands though its towers be falling;
Many have crumbled beneath the sod,
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to come,
But above all the souls that roam,
Weary for rest everlasting.

God, the most high, abides not in
Temples that hands have erected.
High above earthly strife and sin,
He hath his mansions perfected.
Yet He, whom heavens cannot contain,
Chose to abide on earth with man
Making their body His temple.

We are God’s house of living stones,
Built for the Spirit’s indwelling.
He at His font and table owns
Us for His glory excelling.
Should only two confess His name,
He would yet come and dwell with them,
Granting His mercy abounding.

Even the temples built on earth
Unto the praise of the Father,
Are like the homes of hallowed worth
Whence we as children did gather.
Glorious things in them are said,
God there with us His covenant made,
Making us heirs of His kingdom.

There we behold the font at which
God as His children received us;
There stands the altar where His rich
Mercy from hunger relieved us.
There His blest word to us proclaim:
Jesus is now and e’er the same,
So is His way of salvation.

Grant then, O Lord, where’er we roam,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
People in Jesus’ name may come,
Praising His glory with singing.
“Ye, not the world, my face shall see;
I will abide with you,” said He.
“My peace I leave with you ever.”

Source: Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark #84

Author: Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig

Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig was the son of a pastor, and was born at Udby, in Seeland, in 1783. He studied in the University of Copenhagen from 1800-1805; and, like some other eminent men, did not greatly distinguish himself; his mind was too active and his imagination too versatile to bear the restraint of the academic course. After leaving the university he took to teaching; first in Langeland, then (1808) in Copenhagen. Here he devoted his attention to poetry, literature, and Northern antiquities. In 1810 he became assistant to his father in a parish in Jutland. The sermon he preached at his ordination, on the subject "Why has the Lord's word disappeared from His house," attracted much attention, which is rarely the case with "pro… Go to person page >

Translator: J. C. Aaberg

Jens Christian Aaberg (b. Moberg, Denmark, 1877; d. Minneapolis, MN, 1970) immigrated to the United States in 1901. Educated at Grand View College and Seminary in Des Moines, Iowa, he entered the ministry of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and served congregations in Marinette, Wisconsin; Dwight, Illinois; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Aaberg wrote Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark (1945), translated at least eighty hymns from Danish into English, and served on four hymnal committees. In 1947 King Frederick of Denmark awarded him the Knight Cross of Denmark. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987  Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Built on a rock the church of God
Danish Title: Kirken den er et gammelt Hus
Author: Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig
Translator: J. C. Aaberg (1945)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain



Composed for this text by Ludwig M. Lindeman (b. Trondheim, Norway, 1812; d. Oslo, Norway, 1887), KIRKEN was published in Wilhelm A. Wexel's Christelige Psalmer (1840). A bar form (AAB) tune in the Dorian mode, it is a suitably rugged, folk-like tune for this text, with a satisfying climax in line 6…

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Great Songs of the Church (Revised) #362

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