An Analysis of Various Versions of A. M. Toplady’s “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” (1774-2001)

In an investigation of historical American hymnals, it was discovered that of the 267 most frequently published hymns, A. M. Toplady’s “Rock of Ages” ranked ninth, included in 114 of the 175 hymnals. This study examines 130 versions of that hymn text, beginning with its earliest periodical publications in 1774 and extending up through to a hymnal published in 2001, noting changes in its language, substance, structure, orthography, punctuation, and capitalization. Numerous editorial notes and comments offer explanations and explications concerning how editors altered the original version as well as biographical and historical commentary on books, editors, tune composers, publishing houses, and even pricing information. The sheer variety of hymnals and collections of hymns that have housed “Rock of Ages” broadens the discussion, particularly after the examination of those books intended to generate financial profit as well as to promote spiritual welfare. The hymnals chosen represent a wide range of denominational and commercial endeavors.

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century – and a Bit Beyond
Other Works Citied and Consulted
Index to Writers, Composers, Editors, and Others
Index to Publishers, Printers, and Other Firms
Index to Short Titles
Index to Denominations, Institutions and Organizations