Rock of Ages

My rewritten version of the popular 18th century hymn, Rock of Ages.

Rock of Ages, cleft by me,
Let me find the past in thee.
(Futile curses, then the blood,
From my wounded thumb which flowed:
Hasty hammer blows unsure,
Now I’m wrathful, thoughts impure.)

On, with the labor of my hands
Loosed the stone from rocky bands,
Would my zeal no respite know,
Until a fossil I can show?
Chipping away mid-Cambrian shale
Searching for ancestor’s tale.

Something in my hand I bring,
Simply to this stone I cling;
Naked trilobite I press
An Agnostus in undress.
Dusty, to the pail I fly:
Rinsing with contented sigh.

Drawing a delighted breath,
My eyes view ancient death:
500 million years ago,
Not six millennia as Bible shows
Rock of ages, cleft by me
Let me find myself in thee.

Itagnostus interstrictus (White, 1874): Wheeler Shale, Middle Cambrian period, Utah, USA. (Source, Wikipedia)

The above Agnostid (not Agnostic, that’s me, and a much bigger fossil.) is only 8mm long. It has had a troubled past, being quite unsure if it is a trilobite or a mere, less distinguished (if I understand correctly), mandibulate crustacean (i.e like lobsters, crabs and shrimps). If anyone wants to pursue this further, I suggest you start with, Burgess Shale fossils shed light on the agnostid problem. (2019). I dare not go there myself, as the words are too big, and too many.

I adapted this hymn many years ago, as a fun little project that I thought could lead to an eventual Faith-free hymn book for secular gatherings. Of course, like many of my ideas, it never went beyond one attempt, which all can be grateful for.

The 1775 Toplady version of the hymn goes thusly:

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 power.

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.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds un-known
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee. 

Comments welcome.

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: