Hymn 93
(tune: Rock of Ages)

Arguably the second most recognizable hymn tune, right after Amazing Grace, is Rock of Ages. It was written by Rev. Augustus Toplady in 1763 and first published in 1775 in “The Gospel Magazine.” It’s said that Rev. Toplady was walking along a gorge in the Mendip Hills (in England) when he was caught in a bad storm. He found refuge in a gap in the gorge and the title Rock of Ages came to him. He immediately scribbled down the initial lyrics.

This is one of the earlier hymns I learned on my flutes, so it was high on my list of songs for this CD. The Cherokee lyrics illustrate how completely independent they are from the original English. The Cherokee version has 18 verses that detail the capture, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ. The first verse is a call to listen to the story, followed by 17 verses of the story, ending in verse 18 with the proclamation that those who do not believe will be left behind to spend eternity in a “bad place.” For my recording, I start with that first verse, but then chose 5 of the remaining 17 that I felt captured key points in the story. My recording ends when His disciples see He had risen. Even my abridged version runs a little over five and a half minutes, but I felt I had to maintain a level of fidelity to the story.

Listen here for a 1 minute preview of this song: