The Church’s One Foundation

Posted on 10th July 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories


There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Hymns can have a great role in teaching the faith. I suspect many people can remember more verses of hymns that verses of scripture, and it did not take long in the history of the church for hymns to be used as a way of teaching the faith. In fact you can find Paul quoting hymns in his letters and, of course, the Psalms speak of the character of God.

One of the many to write hymns to help congregations was the Revd S J Stone, who was curate of Windsor. In order to help the words of the Apostles’ Creed gain traction in the minds of his flock, he wrote a series of twelve hymns on the creed which he published as “Lyra Fidelium”. So it is that ‘The Church’s One Foundation’ was written on the ninth line of the Apostle’s creed: “… the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints…”.

As he penned the verse, there was a controversy brewing in the South African church concerning one Bishop Colenso, who dismissed much of the Old Testament as fictitious. The other bishops deposed Colenso, but he refused to go and in the end his case was brought to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Such was the fame of this incident, that we can see its traces in verse five of the hymn”

Though with a scornful wonder 
Men see her sore oppressed, 
By schisms rent asunder 
By heresies distressed:

The hymn quickly became popular, and was sung as the processional hymn at St Paul’s, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey during the third worldwide gathering (1888) of Anglican bishops known as the Lambeth Conference. In fact so popular was it that Archbishop William Temple was said to have remarked that whenever he opened or dedicated a church, two things were always there: ‘cold chicken and The Church’s One Foundation.”

The church's one foundation
is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word:
from heav'n he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

Elect from ev'ry nation,
yet one o'er all the earth,
her charter of salvation
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with ev'ry grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
men see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping
their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
to guide, sustain, and cherish,
is with her to the end;
though there be those that hate her,
and false sons in her pale,
against both foe and traitor
she ever shall prevail.

‘Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore;
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious
shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
with the God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven

09th July 2020

Our Daily Bread

11th July 2020

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