Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages is an old English hymn that was translated and sung in Miss Irby’s school in Sarajevo. Many of her students had experienced refugee life during the uprising of 1875-79. I imagine them finding great hope in the words. Hopefully, this song will be sung at the commemoration service for Miss Irby on September 15th.

According to “hymn historians,” the author of this song, Augustus Toplady, was overtaken by a thunderstorm one day while traveling. To escape the storm, he took shelter in a crag between two massive limestone rocks. There, he penned these words:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,    

[originally When my eye-strings break in death]
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Here is Fernando Ortega singing one of my favorite versions of this song.

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