Built on the Rock

“Built on the Rock” is a proclamation, through scripturally anchored words and sturdily architected music, of the nature and eternity of the Church whose foundation is Jesus Christ.

Long a favorite of Scandinavian Christians and Lutherans worldwide, the hymn was written by Danish theologian, cleric, and poet Nicolai F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), whose criticism of the rationalist philosophy then predominant in the Danish Lutheran church, and his argument for Christianity as a revealed, inspired, and sacramental religion, led to the revitalization of that church. The text was translated to English by Carl Doving (1867-1937).

The tune accompanying the text, known as KIRKEN DEN DER ET, was the first hymn tune written by Danish organist, composer, and folk music collector Ludvig Mathias Lindeman (1812-1887). It is an austere, arching, and folk-like melody in the Dorian mode.

This arrangement begins with individual voices of the brass quintet, like individual members of the Church, joining together in various combinations and as a whole to introduce the tune. Verses 2 and 3 present the tune in additional combinations. Verse 4 introduces alternate harmonizations and features a soaring descant in Trumpet 1, powerful unison statements by the entire ensemble, and majestic final chords.

To view a representative text of “Built on the Rock,” click here (PDF opens in a new tab). For more information on both the text and tune, read this excellent analysis by David Hamrick on David’s Hymn Blog (opens in a new tab).

Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba) — $12.99