Friday, February 3, 2012

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

I have a difficult time imagining many classic hymns that quite so powerfully capture the evangelical spirit as Augustus Toplady's justly famed "Rock of Ages", three verses of which are included as Hymn #111 in the Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; below I'll share a rendition I particularly enjoy, and my quotations of the lyrics will be from it. It has an air of intimacy, of direct 'I-Thou' personal relation to Jesus, confessing the singer's complete helplessness to be righteous ("All the labors of my hands / Could not meet Thy law's demands. / Could my zeal no respite know, / Could my tears forever flow, / All for sin could not atone...") and Jesus' complete all-sufficiency to save ("...Thou must save, and Thou alone"). The confession of a need for a "double cure" for sin, a salvation and sanctification gained only through Jesus' "wounded side"; the impassioned simplicity of the singer's emptiness ("Nothing in my hands I bring, / Simply to Thy cross I cling"); the singer's depiction of him- or herself as "naked" and "helpless", needing to rush to the divine "fountain" of amazing redeeming grace to be washed clean by the Savior or else die... could there be a better Evangelical anthem, or indeed a better Christian anthem?

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