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Updated 05/30/2013


How Firm a Foundation

John Rippon

The lyrics for "How Firm a Foundation" were written by ohn Rippon (1751-1836) an English Baptist minister and in 1787 published an important hymnal, A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended to Be an Appendix to Dr. Watts’ Psalms and Hymns, commonly known as Rippon's Selection, which was very successful, and was reprinted 27 times in over 200,000 copies. Many hymns originally published in Rippon's Selection are preserved in the Sacred Harp.

At the age of 17, Rippon attended Briston Baptist College in Bristol, England. After the death of John Gill, he assumed Gill's pastorate, the Baptist meeting-house in Carter Lane, Tooley Street which moved in 1833 to the New Park Street Chapel in London, from 1773 at the age of 20 until his death, a period of 63 years. He also edited the Baptist Annual Register for 12 years. He was considered the foremost authority on the hymns of Isaac Watts.

Rippon's church was later pastored by Charles Haddon Spurgeon before moving to the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle in Southwark. Rippon's Selection of hymns were used by the congregation until 1866 when Spurgeon produced an update called "Our Own Hymn Book" which borrowed much from Rippon and Watts.

At the time of his death, he was working on a book commemorating those buried in London's Dissenter cemetery, Bunhill Fields, where he himself was buried.

The words are set to the tune, Protection, from A Com­pil­a­tion of Gen­u­ine Church Mu­sic, by Jo­seph Funk.  Joseph Funk (1778 – 1862) was a pioneer American music teacher, publisher, and one of the first American composers. 

Joseph Funk was born April 6, 1778, in Berks County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry and Barbara (Showalter) Funk, and a grandson of Bishop Henry Funck. Bishop Funck came to America in 1719, and was the first Mennonite bishop in America. As a boy, Joseph moved with his parents to Rockingham County, Virginia, and spent the rest of his life there.

In 1804, Funk married Elizabeth Rhodes, and they had five children. After her death, he married Rachel Britton, and they raised nine children.

Joseph Funk was a member of the Mennonite Church. In 1847, he established the first Mennonite printing house in the United States, at Mountain Valley, Virginia (renamed Singers Glen in 1860). Funk and his sons were active in organizing and teaching many singing schools in Virginia.

Funk died December 24, 1862, and is buried in the cemetery at Singers Glen

The 1847 fourth edition of Funk's A Compilation of Genuine Church Music was the first publication by Joseph Funk and Sons at Singers Glen. The name was changed to Harmonia Sacra in 1851. The book is still is in use by Mennonites today. The Southern Musical Advocate and Singer's Friend was a 16 page monthly periodical published by Funk from 1859 to 1861. It was a forerunner of The Musical Million and Fireside Friend, a periodical published by Funk's grandson, Aldine S. Kieffer. Joseph Funk's sons continued the printing business after his death. The Ruebush-Kieffer Company purchased the press in 1878.

Lyrics by John Rippon


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even 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.

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