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The inspiration behind the Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me
Augustus Toplady: The inspiration behind The Rock of Ages

"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 other.

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."

From: This England Magazine - Winter 1988 Issue
Rock of Ages: Christian Gifts

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