In the latter half of the 1800’s, Anglican Bishop J. W. Colenso published several writings that challenged the accepted Christian beliefs of the time – which created quite a scandal. To refute Colenso’s writings, English clergyman Rev. Samuel J. Stone published Lyra Fidelium: Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed.
One of the hymns by Rev. Stone (based on the ninth article of the Apostle’s Creed – the holy catholic church, the communion of saints), gave us the text for The Church Is One Foundation. His original hymn text had seven verses – and later he added three more – but (thankfully) hymnals today use only four or five .
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation by water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.
The hymn tune most often used for The Church’s One Foundation – Aurelia – was written by English organist and composer Samuel Sebastian Wesley. Aurelia (which means “golden”) was first published in an 1864 hymnal with the hymn text Jerusalem the Golden.
A short time later, Aurelia was coupled with the text by Rev. Stone but not everyone approved of the match. Nineteenth century English organist Dr. Henry Gauntlett was disgusted with the pairing and referred to Wesley’s tune as “inartistic, secular twaddle.” (Ouch.)
But Wesley’s tune endured and a hymn rooted in controversy continues today as a hymn we sing for Christian unity. I hope you hear the peacefulness of that unity in the gentle simplicity of my piano arrangement of The Church’s One Foundation. Enjoy!