"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

The Story Behind the Hymn “Rock of Ages”

“Rock of Ages” is a Christian hymn written by Augustus M. Toplady, with music by Thomas Hastings. This very personal hymn uses pronouns such asI and me rather than we and our,focusing on individual salvation.

Legend says that Toplady wrote the hymn during a stormy incident in England. While traveling along the gorge in Burrington Combe, he was caught in a fierce storm and took shelter in a gap in the gorge, where he wrote the original lyrics. Some disagree on whether the event actually occurred; nevertheless, the rock is now marked with a plaque that reads: “Rock of Ages: This rock derives its name from the well known hymn written about 1762 by the Rev A M Toplady who was inspired whilst sheltering in this cleft during a storm.” 

The 1950 Latter-day Saint hymnal included a version of the hymn for women’s voices only, but in the 1985 hymnal it was changed to the standard four-part harmony for congregational use.

The choir has performed “Rock of Ages” for years, and you can find recordings on the albums Rock of Ages: 30 Great Hymns and The Majesty of America.