I am the song leader in my church. I am not very proficient as a musician or a choral director. I pray that, someday soon, God will send someone more capable, to take this ministry from me. But for the time being it is my responsibility to select the music and lead the congregation in the singing every week.

I take that responsibility seriously. The hymns and songs that I select must be doctrinally sound, they must be appropriate for worship with a God-centered worldview, and, withing those parameters, I try to select music that will reinforce and, support the text and subject of my pastor’s messages.

Some of us have been singing the hymns for years; the words roll off our lips but the messages often don't engage our minds or penetrate our hearts. With the apostle Paul, I want the congregation to "sing with understanding."

So for the past couple years, it has been my practice to select one hymn each week, research it, and then highlight it with a short introductory commentary so that the congregation will be more informed regarding the origin, the author's testimony, or the doctrinal significance of the hymns we sing.

It is my intention here with this blog, to archive these hymn commentaries for my reference and to make them freely available to other church song leaders. For ease of reference, all the hymn commentaries in this blog will be titled IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Other posts (which will be music ministry related opinion pieces) will be printed in lower case letters.

I know that some of the comments contain traces of my unique style, but please feel free to adapt them and use the content any way you can for the edification of your congregation and to the glory of God.

All I ask is that you leave a little comment should you find something helpful.

Ralph M. Petersen

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016


If you were to Google Search for lists of the greatest Hymns of the Christian faith, HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION, would be on almost all of them.  The title of this song is also its theme- We have a Rock Solid Faith that is built on a Firm Foundation which is God’s Word.  

Some other hymns with similar themes, come to mind like Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation, or how about, “On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”  

This is the kind of stuff that builds confidence.  Authentic Biblical Faith isn’t fuzzy; it’s not iffy; it’s not uncertain.   When someone asks, “Are you sure you’re going to be with the Lord when you die?” we don’t have to offer meek, squishy-sounding, answers like, “I think so," or "I hope so.”   We can respond with absolute assurance, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives, and because He lives, I too shall live.”   Those of us whom God has redeemed can rest assured that our salvation is solid and unshakeable. 

Some people would say (and there are whole denominations that say), that kind of attitude is proud, or arrogant, or boastful; that we can’t possibly know for sure.  And they would be right if our confidence was in ourselves.  

But our confidence is not in anything we do; it’s not in our self-righteousness, our works, or our religious devices.  In fact, this might come as a surprise to you, –-  If you’re saved, it’s not because your walked down an aisle or repeated a prayer.   Salvation is of the Lord. You are saved if you are trusting, totally, in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone.   

Every line, of these lyrics, has a sense of power and authority as though God, Himself, is actually speaking.  And that's because almost all of these lyrics are paraphrases of, allusions to, or quote from some text from God’s immutable Word. 
And so, in verse one, we see that the foundation for our faith is laid in the excellence of His unchanging Word.  The Apostle Paul tells us that we are “members of the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets;” that foundation being the very Words of God.  And then he anchors that figurative building on the Living Word, Jesus Christ, Himself, being the chief cornerstone.   What more can He say?  We don’t need any new revelation from God.  He has spoken!

The second verse, then, assures us that we have no need to fear anything.  It’s almost an exact quote from Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Aren’t you glad that your salvation is not dependent on your own works of righteousness?    The God who saves us is always with us.  The Spirit of God indwells us.  He helps us; He strengthens us, and He hold us up with His own all-powerful hand.

The third verse contains God’s promise that His grace is completely sufficient for every need.  Even when He takes us through extreme trials and persecutions, He does it to refine us and to purify us for our good and His glory.    

We are weak but God is Strong.  Sometimes we might wonder and question, but we can be confident that the foundation of our faith is Sure.  It cannot fail because Jesus never fails.  And God’s Word is on the record.  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread…, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.   He will not leave you or forsake you.”
So the song ends with one of the most powerful promises of assurance ever put to music;  

          The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
                    I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
          That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
                   I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.



  1. Very well done underscoring the matchless Gospel we hold dear!

  2. A terrific hymn that has seven verses, sadly most hymnals only show four. It can be also sung to "O Worship the King."