The Church's One Foundation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Church's One Foundation
Samuel John Stone.jpg
Genre Hymn
Written 1866
Text Samuel John Stone
Based on 1 Corinthians 3:11
Meter D
Melody "Aurelia" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley

The Church's One Foundation is a Christian hymn written in the 1860s by Samuel John Stone.

The song was written as a direct response to the schism within the Church of South Africa caused by John William Colenso, first Bishop of Natal, who denounced much of the Bible as fictitious.[1] This topic is alluded to within the fourth verse of the text "Though with a scornful wonder men see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed." When Bishop Colenso was deposed for his teachings, he appealed to the higher ecclesiastical authorities in England.

It was then that Samuel Stone became involved in the debate. It inspired him to write a set of hymns based on the Apostles' Creed in 1866. He titled it, Lyra Fidelium; Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles' Creed. "The Church's One Foundation" is based on the ninth article, The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints.

The song also served as inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's 1896 poem, Hymn Before Action.

It is typically set to the tune "Aurelia" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.[2]

Original 1866 lyrics[edit]

1 The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.
2 She is from every 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 every grace endued.
3 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 who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.
4 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!
5 ’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.
6 Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s Hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.
7 O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide! Amen


Popular usage[edit]

In the 1941 film One Foot in Heaven, the song is featured in the final emotional scene.

Science Fiction author David Weber has used portions of The Church's One Foundation as book titles for his Safehold series.

In 2013, a line from the hymn was given prominence in the landmark publication from Crossway: "From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective" (eds. David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson), a multi-authored volume which defends the Christian doctrine of definite atonement.


  1. ^ "The Church's One Foundation". Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  2. ^ Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1982-01-01). 101 Hymn Stories. Kregel Publications. ISBN 9780825493270. 
  3. ^ "Lyra Fidelium: Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostle's Creed". Archived from the original on 2016-03-19. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  4. ^ Stone, Samuel John (1866-01-01). Lyra fidelium, 12 hymns on the twelve articles of the Apostles' creed. 

External links[edit]