Rock of Ages–Cross I Cling

Oak Hill Cemetery, rural Indiana

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.

Not the labors 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 Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close 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.

Then above the world and sin,
Thro’ the veil, drawn right within,
I shall see Him face to face,
Sing the story, saved by grace,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me ever be with Thee.

“Rock of Ages” was written by Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady in 1763 and first published in 1775.  The hymn has been a popular Christian standard for over a century.  At the turn of the 19th Century, postcards depicted a dramatic scene of a woman in a flowing dress being buffeted by a storm surrounded by stormy white-crested waves clinging to a cross illustrating the first two lines of the third stanza from the hymn:

“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling”

The image above is a bas-relief of those two lines of the great hymn.  This motif is commonly found on white-bronze markers (blue-tinted cast zinc markers) made in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The woman symbolizes faith.  The raging sea is a metaphor for the sea of sin in which humankind lives, and the cross is the hope to which sinners cling to be saved.

The James and Mary Pickens Monument, Oak Hill Cemetery, rural Indiana

This entry was posted in Symbolism. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rock of Ages–Cross I Cling

  1. Kelly says:

    That is one of the more powerful images I’ve seen posted. The hymn is indeed great, and a little frightening in its puritanism.

Leave a Reply to Kelly Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s