The Church's One Foundation

The Church's One Foundation

Hymn of the Month for July

This Pastor's Pen article continues Pastor Cowell's "Hymn of the Month" series in which he shares a brief commentary on the theology and history behind some of the hymns we enjoy singing from the Lutheran Service Book.  The full text of the hymn is included at the bottom of the post.  
Image: Public Domain
Our hymn of the month for July is one in a collection of twelve hymns written by Reverend Samuel Stone in 1866.  Stone wrote these hymns in order to teach the meaning of the Apostles’ Creed to his parishioners. The Church’s One Foundation, you might guess, was meant to teach the meaning in the Creed of the line: “The holy catholic [or, Christian] Church, the communion of saints.”  

One of the sad casualties of The Church’s One Foundation as it was brought from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to Lutheran Worship (1982) was the loss of what was resurrected as stanza 3 in Lutheran Service Book as well as the following stanza which did not make it back into LSB:

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.

It also happened through the course of history that the final two stanzas of Stone’s hymn were combined into a single stanza, as they are in most hymnals today.  Here are those final two stanzas; I have bolded those phrases and images that didn’t make it into our modern version:

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.

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
     For ever shall abide!

Omissions aside, what we have with The Church’s One Foundation is a clear, detailed, and beautiful confession of what it means that we confess the one holy, catholic Church and the communion of saints.

If you are interested in seeing Samuel Stone’s other eleven hymns on the Apostles’ Creed contained in his work, Lyra Fidelium (which I highly recommend!), you can do so online by clicking this link.

God bless you as you enjoy singing the faith with our July hymn of the month!

Used throughout the devotion on the reverse side is content from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, Vol. 1 (CPH: 2019), p. 803-806.
The Church’s One Foundation, LSB 644

Text and tune: Public domain
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Thomas Cowell