How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord

Representative Text

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, your troubles 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 "E'en down to old age all my people shall prove
my sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
and when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

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

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #243

Author: K.

In John Rippon's A Selection of Hymns (1787, plus numerous subsequent editions), "How Firm a Foundation" (no. 128) is attributed simply to "K—". Two other hymns in the collection bear the same mark, "In songs of sublime adoration and praise," and "The Bible is justly esteemed." The author of the hymn has never been definitively identified, but the most common candidates are listed below. I. Robert Keen(e) The most likely possibility is Robert Keene, who served as precentor at Rippon's church. The evidence for connecting K with Keene comes (1) from his close acquaintance with Rippon, (2) Rippon's tune book, and (3) the testimony (of sorts) of Thomas Walker. After Rippon started publishing a tune book, A Selection of Psalm and Hymn T… Go to person page >

Author (attributed to): George Keith

George Keith, according to D. Sedgwick, was the author of "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord." Little is known about Keith, save that he was a publisher, a son-in-law of Dr. Gill, and the composer of several hymns. --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872. Go to person page >

Author (attributed to): R. Keen

Robert Keen (or Keene) was the leader of music and the Carter Lane Baptist Church in London when John Rippon was the pastor. It was during this time that Rippon collected and published his Selections in 1787. He is the likely author of "How Firm a Foundation." Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Author: K. (1787)
Author (attributed to): George Keith (1787)
Author (attributed to): R. Keen (c. 1787)
Source: Rippon's A Selection of Hymns, 1787
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Gospel Acclamation Songs


Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Cor. 3:11
st. 2 = Isa. 41:10
st. 3-4 = Isa. 43:2
st. 5 = Rom. 8:35-39, Heb. 13:5, Deut. 31:6

Based on Isaiah 43: 1-5, this text was given the heading “Exceeding great and precious Promises. II Peter 3:4” [sic. II Peter 1:4] 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.

A Baptist minister, Rippon (b. Tiverton, Devonshire, England, 1751; d. London, England, 1836) was called to the Baptist Church in Carter Lane, London, in 1772 as an interim pastor. After becoming head pastor, he stayed in that position for sixty-three years. He also edited the Baptist Annual Register (1790-1802). His main contribution to hymnody was his compiling of A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended As an Appendix to Dr. Watts' Psalms and Hymns (1787) and A Selection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1791). These publications became popular in both England and America. However, later hymnologists have often been frustrated by Rippon's work because he frequently did not indicate the authors of the hymns and often altered the texts without acknowledging his changes.

Liturgical Use:
Many occasions of worship that focus on redemption and providence; as a hymn of comfort for those in difficult or tragic circumstances; baptism; profession of faith; prior to reading of Scripture.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord. Keen. [Perseverance of the Saints.] This hymn appeared in Rippon's Selection, 1787, No. 128, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines, and entitled, “Exceeding great and precious promises." In 1822 it was repeated in A. Fletcher's Baptist Collection of Hymns, No. 296, in 4 stanzas, the omitted stanzas being ii., iv. & v. Two arrangements of the text were thus handed down to modern hymnals. In the 1835 edition of Fletcher's Collection, the full original text is restored. This is repeated in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, 1866, No. 732, and other hymn-books.
The authorship of this hymn has been the subject of much enquiry. We have (1) in modern editions of Rippon the name of "Kirkham"; (2) in Fletcher's 1835 edition as above, "Keen"; (3) and in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, "George Keith."
1. Rippon's original signature was "K—." In modern editions, which are not published by Dr. Rippon's representatives, the "K—“ is extended into "Kirkham," but on what authority we cannot say.
2. The ascription in Miller's Singers and Songs, 1869, p. 349, we find from the Sedgwick Manuscript, is based upon nothing but the statement of an old woman whom Sedgwick met in an almshouse.
3. In Fletcher's Collection, 1822, the "K—" of Rippon is extended to "Kn," and in the edition of 1835 this is still further extended to "Keen," and so it remains. That this is more likely to be correct than either of the other two is gathered from the fact that Dr. Fletcher was assisted in his work by Thomas Walker, the editor of Dr. Rippon's Tune Book, to whom he specially refers in these words:—"Great assistance has been obtained from Mr. Walker, Compiler of Dr. Rippon's Tune Book, and the Editor of the Companion to it, called Walker's Companion; and it is but justice to acknowledge that the principal choice of Hymns and the application of Tunes, has been effected by his extensive knowledge of sacred poetry, and long tried acquaintance with the science of sacred music." Preface, London, Nov. 1822.
In addition, in the Index of the "Names of such Authors of the Hymns as are known," the name "Keen," with the abbreviation “Kn," is also given. Taking Mr. Walker's acquaintance with Dr. Rippon's work into account, we are justified in concluding that the ascription to this hymn must be that of an unknown person of the name of Keen.
The following hymns bear the same signature as the above in Dr. Rippon's Selection, 1787.
1. In songs of sublime adoration and praise (Distinguishing Grace). This is given in Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, on Sedgwick's authority, as "George Keith, 1787."
2. The Bible is justly esteemed (Holy Scriptures).
From the fact that these two hymns have a common signature in Rippon’s Selection, 1787, with "How firm a foundation," &c, and that the three appeared there for the first time, we also ascribe them to Keen. Miller, in his Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, bases his note on George Keith on the unsupported word of D. Sedgwick as above.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)




The anonymous tune FOUNDATION first appeared in Joseph Funk's A Compilation of Genuine Church Music (1832) as a setting for this text (there it was called PROTECTION). The tune was also published with the text in Southern Harmony and Sacred Harp. The ancestors of Joseph Funk (b. Lancaster County, PA…

Go to tune page >



You have access to this FlexScore.
Are parts of this score outside of your desired range? Try transposing this FlexScore.
General Settings
Stanza Selection
Voice Selection
Text size:
Music size:
Transpose (Half Steps):
Contacting server...
Contacting server...

Questions? Check out the FAQ

A separate copy of this score must be purchased for each choir member. If this score will be projected or included in a bulletin, usage must be reported to a licensing agent (e.g. CCLI, OneLicense, etc).

This is a preview of your FlexScore.
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #338
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
The Cyber Hymnal #2573
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Training hymnal for jansenprice #372
  • Page image (PDF)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #500
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
Small Church Music #2714
  • PDF Score (PDF)
The United Methodist Hymnal #529
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
Worship and Rejoice #411


Instances (1 - 89 of 89)

A Teaching Hymnal #142

TextPage Scan

African American Heritage Hymnal #146

AGO Founders Hymnal #48

Ambassador Hymnal #262

TextAudioPage Scan

Baptist Hymnal 1991 #338


Baptist Hymnal 2008 #456

Page Scan

Breaking Bread (Vol. 39) #710

TextPage Scan

Celebrating Grace Hymnal #425

TextPage Scan

Chalice Hymnal #618

Christian Science Hymnal #498

TextPage Scan

Christian Worship #416

TextPage Scan

Christian Worship #768

Church Hymnal, Mennonite #230

Page Scan

Common Praise (1998) #527

TextPage Scan

Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #292

Page Scan

Complete Mission Praise #243


Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #521

TextAudioPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran Worship #796

Gather (3rd ed.) #694

TextPage Scan

Gather Comprehensive #606

Page Scan

Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #587

Text InfoTextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Glory to God #463

Hymnal #567


Hymns for a Pilgrim People #248

Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #430

TextPage Scan

Hymns of Faith #111

TextPage Scan

Hymns of Promise #50

Hymns of the Saints #136

Hymns Old and New #216

TextPage Scan

Hymns to the Living God #241


Journeysongs (2nd ed.) #716


Journeysongs (3rd ed.) #683

TextPage Scan

Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #555


Lift Up Your Hearts #427


Lutheran Service Book #728


Lutheran Worship #411

TextPage Scan

Moravian Book of Worship #709

TextPage Scan

One in Faith #761

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism #92

Page Scan

Oramos Cantando = We Pray In Song #573

Praise y Adoración #287a

Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #338


Psalms for All Seasons #11B

Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #500

Rejoice Hymns #578

TextPage Scan

Rejoice in the Lord #172


RitualSong (2nd ed.) #793

TextPage Scan

RitualSong #731

Rock of Ages A Worship and Songbook for Retirement Living #59

Santo, Santo, Santo #291

TextPage Scan

Sing Joyfully #179


Small Church Music #211


Small Church Music #2714

Soul-stirring Songs & Hymns (Rev. ed.) #153

Spiritual Life Songs #22

The Baptist Hymnal #502

TextPage Scan

The Celebration Hymnal #408

The Christian Life Hymnal #392

The Covenant Hymnal #437


The Cyber Hymnal #2573

The Family Hymnal #26

The History of Hymn Singing as told through One hundred & One famous hymns #103

TextPage Scan

The Hymnal 1982 #636


The Hymnal 1982 #637

TextPage Scan

The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #275

TextPage Scan

The New Century Hymnal #407

Page Scan

The New National Baptist Hymnal #21

TextPage Scan

The New National Baptist Hymnal (21st Century Edition) #48

TextPage Scan

The Presbyterian Hymnal #361

The Sacred Harp #72b


The Song Book of the Salvation Army #653

TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

The United Methodist Hymnal #529

The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #133

The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement #134

TextFlexscorePage Scan

The Worshiping Church #612


Timeless Truths #95


Together in Song #578

Total Praise #122

TextPage Scan

Training hymnal for jansenprice #372

TextFlexscorePage Scan

Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #94


Trinity Psalter Hymnal #243

TextPage Scan

Voices United #660

Welsh and English Hymns and Anthems #5b

Welsh and English Hymns and Anthems (Reformatted) #5b


Worship (3rd ed.) #585

Worship (4th ed.) #687

TextScoreFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Worship and Rejoice #411


Worship in Song #197

Yes, Lord! #54

Include 1826 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support