On the Rock of Thy Commandments

Representative Text

“On the rock of Thy commandments
“Fix me firmly, lest I slide:
“With the glory of Thy Presence
“Cover me on every side;
”Seeing none save Thee is holy,
“GOD, for ever glorified!”

New immortal out of mortal,
New existence out of old:
This the Cross of CHRIST accomplished,
This the Prophets had foretold:
So that we thus newly quickened,
Might attain the heavenly fold.

Thou Who comprehendest all things,
Comprehended by the tomb,
Gav’st Thy body to the graveclothes
And the silence and the gloom:
Till through fast-closed doors Thou camest
Thy Disciples to illume.

Every nail-print, every buffet,
Thou didst freely undergo,
As Thy Resurrection’s witness
To the Twelve Thou cam’st to show:
So that what they saw in vision,
Future years by faith might know.

Hymns of the Eastern Church, 1866

Translator: John Mason Neale

John M. Neale's 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 Sackvi… Go to person page >

Author: St. John of Damascus

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wr… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: On the Rock of Thy Commandments
Author: St. John of Damascus (780)
Translator: John Mason Neale (1862)
Meter: 8.7.8.7.8.7
Language: English

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Hymns of the Eastern Church (5th ed.) #121

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