Posted by: rcottrill | July 16, 2012

Hiding in Thee

Words: William Orcutt Cushing (b. Dec. 31, 1823; d. Oct. 19, 1902)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

In his great hymn Rock of Ages, Augustus Toplady makes use of poetic imagery found a number of times in the Word of God, especially in Psalms: that of hiding for safety and security in a crevice in a great rock.

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Ps. 18:2).

“He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (Ps. 62:2).

“Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress” (Ps. 71:3).

“The LORD has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge” (Ps. 94:22).

It’s a picture of the encircling protection given by the Lord that Mr. Cushing also takes up in this hymn.

1-CH) O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine, would I be;
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,”
I’m hiding in Thee.

The assurance of God’s protection and care was something Mr. Cushing knew about personally. He was raised as a Unitarian (a group that denies the deity of Christ), but eventually came to a fuller knowledge of the truth and served with the Methodists. In 1854 he married Miss Hena Proper. It was a loving relationship, and as time went by Hena greatly helped him in his pastoral and evangelistic work. However, a double tragedy was to follow.

Mrs. Cushing contracted a serious and debilitating illness, and her husband cared for her tenderly for years, until she died in 1870. Then, soon after her death, William Cushing was stricken with a kind of creeping paralysis that left him unable to speak. Pastor Cushing was dearly loved and successful in ministry, both in caring for the people and building the Sunday School. But for a preacher to no longer be able to preach is a serious–and especially painful–disability.

Unable to support himself, William Cushing later went to live with Pastor and Mrs. E. E. Curtis. Retiring from active ministerial duties, he prayed, “Lord, still give me something to do for Thee.” It was then the door opened for him to write gospel songs, and he gave us over 300 of them, a number of which are still in use. Songs such as:

Follow On
Hiding in Thee
Ring the Bells of Heaven
There’ll Be No Dark Valley
Under His Wings
When He Cometh

It’s clear that illness, or other trials need not be the end of service for the Lord. Sometimes they merely redirect us into a kind of ministry we didn’t expect, or seemed to have no time for before. Some have become great prayer warriors, others have given us fine poetry. Our hymnody is sprinkled with examples of this. (See Suffering Hymn Writers.)

CH-2) In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow’s lone hour,
In times when temptation casts o’er me its power;
In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

1) Do you know of a believer whose trials God has used to redirect them into another kind of ministry for Him?

2) What special lessons seem to have been learned by this person along the way?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Last week you posted about “Channels Only” and I commented on it, but I can’t find it today. Anyhow, we sang it in the evening church service last night. I’d bemoaned that it is not sung often enough and it popped up. Twice in one week!

    • Yes, things sometimes work out that way. Like me preaching on a passage of Scripture and having a visiting speaker deal with the same one the week after. I usually feel the providence of God is at work there, and there’s some reason the Lord wanted to emphasize some things so we wouldn’t forget. If you still need to look at my article on Channels Only, it’s at…


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