The Church's One Foundation
The song was written as a direct response to some teaching, considered unorthodox at the time, by John William Colenso, first Bishop of Natal, which created schism within the Church of South Africa. 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.
Original 1866 lyrics
- 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
In the 1941 film One Foot in Heaven, the song is featured in the final emotional scene.
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.
- "The Church's One Foundation". Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1982-01-01). 101 Hymn Stories. Kregel Publications. ISBN 9780825493270.
- "Lyra Fidelium: Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostle's Creed". www.lyrafidelium.com. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
- Stone, Samuel John (1866-01-01). Lyra fidelium, 12 hymns on the twelve articles of the Apostles' creed.
- The Church's one foundation
- "From Heaven He Came and Sought Her"
- Lyra Fidelium Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostle's Creed by S. J. Stone, B.A., CURATE OF WINDSOR
- Bad things done to good hymns by TAPANI posted on MAY 30, 2012
- Autograph Manuscript of "The Church's One Foundation"
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