This Week in Christian History: Protestant Reformation, CMA Founder Dies, 'Rock of Ages' Hymnist Born

Augustus Toplady is Born - November 4, 1740

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)Anglican minister Augustus Toplady (1740-1778), author of the famous hymn "Rock of Ages."

This week marks the anniversary of the birth of the man who wrote one of the most popular English language hymns in western civilization.

Augustus Toplady was the mind behind the beloved "Rock of Ages," the famous song that dominated hymn collections and continues to be referenced in pop culture to the present day.

"There is a common story of the hymn being inspired by (and even written from within) a rock cleft that Toplady once took refuge in during a storm. The particular rock is in Burrington Combe gorge in North Somerset, England, and it has a plaque on it with this claim to fame. However, the story is probably apocryphal," wrote author and blogger Tim Challies.

"Toplady was most likely inspired to write the hymn after reading the preface of John and Charles Wesleys' Hymns on the Lord's Supper (1745) which contains a prayer voicing many of the themes and words that are also found in the hymn. This is ironic, given the poor condition of Toplady's relationship with John Wesley; but one can perhaps see the hand of God in it."

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