Toplady, Augustus Montague, the author of "Rock of Ages," was born at Farnham, Surrey, November 4, 1740. His father was an officer in the British army. His mother was a woman of remarkable piety. He prepared for the university at Westminster School, and subsequently was graduated at Trinity College, Dublin. While on a visit in Ireland in his sixteenth year he was awakened and converted at a service held in a barn in Codymain. The text was Ephesians ii. 13: "But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." The preacher was an illiterate but warm-hearted layman named Morris. Concerning this experience Toplady wrote: "Strange that I, who had so long sat under the means of grace in England, should b… Go to person page >
O for one celestial ray. Anne Steele and A. M. Toplady. [Prayer for the Holy Spirit.] This hymn is based on the 12 concluding lines of Miss Steele's poem on "Captivity," published in her Poems, &c, 1760, vol. ii. p. 46 (Sedgwick's reprint, 1863, p. 227), and appeared in A. M. Toplady's Psalms & Hymns, 1776, No. 194, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. This form of the text is in a few modern collections, including the Baptist Psalms & Hymns, 1858, and others.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)