Posted by: rcottrill | April 29, 2010

Today in 1751 – John Rippon Born

John Rippon attended the Baptist College in Bristol, England, later becoming pastor of the Carter’s Lane Baptist Church in London–where he served for over 60 years! He also published an influential book called A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended to Be an Appendix to Dr. Watts’ Psalms and Hymns. The volume was reprinted 27 times, and sold over 200,000 copies. John Rippon is considered the foremost authority on the hymns of Isaac Watts, who died 3 years before Rippon was born.

In Rippon’s book are found the hymns Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned, by Samuel Stennett, and How Firm a Foundation. The author of the latter is not named, but it is ascribed to “K” or “Kn.” It is possible that this is a reference to Robert Keene, the music director in Dr. Rippon’s church. The hymn was originally called Exceeding Great and Precious Promises. Each stanza but the first is a versified quotation of Scripture passages giving assurance to the believer.

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,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Some years ago, I attended a Pastors Conference at Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. Joining twelve hundred men lifting their voices in song, during the general sessions, was a thrilling experience. At one meeting, we began with this great hymn. I was in the balcony, looking down on the platform and the lower part of the auditorium. As we sang, a few late-comers straggled in, making their way along the pews to empty seats. Suddenly, the song leader called a halt to the singing. He then said, “This is music to praise God with, not music to march in to! We’ll wait until you’re seated!”

Ouch! (I’m very glad I was on time!) But though I’ve never had the courage to be that blunt, I do recall the incident as I watch people who seem to be chronically late entering the house of God. There are exceptions and emergencies, of course. But, generally speaking, if we are not in our places some minutes before a service is to begin, we may be disturbing others in their  worship, or their time of preparation for what is to come. We could be dishonouring the Lord as well.

(2) Today in 1882 – John Darby Died
Born in London, John Nelson Darby got his middle name from family friend and famed navel hero Admiral Horatio Nelson. Darby attended Trinity College in Dublin, graduating at the age of 19 as a Classics medalist. He trained for a career in law, but abandoned his practice after only a year. He was later ordained as an Anglican clergyman, but became dissatisfied with the Church of England. Meetings with like minded Christians led to the formation of a prayer and Bible study group which came to be known as the Plymouth Brethren (because their meetings were held in Plymouth).

The movement grew, and Darby traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, the West Indies, New Zealand, the United States and Canada on teaching tours. He emphasized truths that had been neglected by many, and we owe much to his influence. Darby also wrote 53 books, as well as authoring a few hymns. One of these is Ten Thousand Voices Crying, picturing the scene in heaven around the throne of God.

Hark! ten thousand voices crying,
“Lamb of God!” with one accord;
Thousand thousand saints replying,
Wake at once the echoing chord.

“Praise the Lamb,” the chorus waking,
All in heaven together throng;
Loud and far each tongue partaking
Rolls around the endless song.

Grateful incense this, ascending
Ever to the Father’s throne:
Every knee to Jesus bending,
All in mind in heaven is one.

All the Father’s counsels claiming
Equal honours to the Son,
All the Son’s effulgence beaming,
Makes the Father’s glory known.

By the Spirit all pervading,
Hosts unnumbered round the Lamb,
Crowned with light and joy unfading,
Hail Him as the great “I AM.”


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