Hymn #407: How Firm a Foundation

The unknown author of this hymn is identifies only by the initial "K," although later editions of Rippon's Selections credit "Kn" and "Keen."  This has led many to speculate that it may have been written by R. Keene, the precentor in Rippons's church who wrote the tune with which the hymn first appeared.

John Rippon (1751-1836) published A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors (1787), a hymnbook of collected works by Watts and others.  The hymnal became a standard for English Baptist churches and was very successful in the United States as well.

FOUNDATION is an anonymous early American melody that appeared with this text in several tune collections from the southern United States.  The earliest of these sources is A Compilation of Genuine Church Music (1832), published by Joseph Funk (1778-1862), a singing-school teacher in Virginia.

 

Joseph Funk, a descendant of German Mennonite immigrants, constructed a log schoolhouse on his farm near Harrisonburg, Virginia, and later converted it to a printshop for his publications.  Funk led singing schools and established a monthly music journal.