How Firm a Foundation
There is one hymn that comes to my mind often, in a variety of situations. When I was young and learning to play the piano, I wanted to learn this hymn, because of its martial type beat and, to be honest, I thought some of the words sounded funny. (More about that later.) As I started to pay attention to the meaning of the words, I realized this hymn is unique. I am being reminded of the words my Savior spoke, and what He has done, does now, and will do for me. I am to lean on Him, to look to Him, and follow Him, and He will not forsake me. He doesn’t promise me an easy life, but promises that whether in sickness or health, rich or poor, wherever I may be, whatever I fear, when I face deep waters and fiery trials, if I lean on Him, He not only will not, He cannot desert me and leave me to my foes (temporal or spiritual). To me, this signifies the covenant relationship I have with Him. When I uphold my part of that covenant, He is bound by His part of the covenant to sustain me. As the lighthouse provides promise of and guidance to safety for a sailor in a raging storm, He stands steadfast and immovable, waiting only for me to look to Him. Often, as I have knelt in prayer, the Spirit has whispered words from this hymn to me. If you want to read the words from the scriptures containing these promises, go to Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2-5, Isaiah 46:4, and Helaman 5:12. To hear verses 1, 2, 3, and 7 sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, go here.
How Firm a Foundation
1. How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
2. In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
4. When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
5. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
6. E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.
7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.
(And, for those who remember the “old” hymn book, it took me awhile to stop wanting to “you who…” and sing “who unto…,” but the change is good.)