"AUGUSTUS TOPLADY - he wrote
one of the world's best hymns while sheltering from a violent thunderstorm.
LIGHTNING briefly illuminated the primitive, rock- hewn
landscape of Burrington Combe in Somerset. It was followed by a deep
growl of thunder, and then rain lashed mercilessly down, pouring bubbling
streamlets down the craggy sides of primeval cliffs which rise up some
250ft. to the Mendip Heights on one side, and into Cheddar Gorge on
The curate of Blagdon, a nearby village, had
been travelling along the road near the cliffs when the storm struck
and dashed into a cave for shelter. He had been fortunate to find this
hiding-place so quickly, and while waiting for the storm to pass he
began to muse on the idea of the "rock of faith" being a shelter
from the "storms of life". The words for a hymn began to form
in his mind but, according to the legend that still persists, he had
no paper in his pocket to write down the words. Looking down he saw
a playing card, considered a sinful thing by the young cleric. Nevertheless,
he picked it up and began to write:
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
The curate was Augustus Montague Toplady, and such is the
popular story behind the origin of one of the world's best-loved hymns
which was first published in the Gospel Magazine in 1775, some 12 years
after Toplady wrote it."