They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4
When Mr. Sankey lived at Cohasset, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1876, after the great Boston meetings, he very naturally desired to bring the Gospel to the people living in that neighborhood. Accordingly, he invited me,wrote Mr. Needham on one occasion,to spend a week with him in a series of evangelistic meetings.
Before the breakfast hour one morning, while Mr. Sankey was playing on his organ, I remarked:I wish we had a good hymn on the Smitten Rock, as I hope to speak on that subject to-night.Mr. Sankey replied with enthusiasm:Here is a new hymn which came to me last night in my sleep; I believe the Lord gave it to me. I wish I had words for it. Why don’t you write a piece on The Rock?I replied,Why, I can’t write such a hymn as you want, and you know that I don’t understand music; how to fit words to your music would puzzle an unmusical man.
The enthusiastic soloist, still playing, said:You’ll find pen and paper on the table; this is a stirring tune and I want the words; try your hand at it.I immediately sat down and asked the Lord’s special help, and then wrote the hymn as it now appears.
Mr. Sankey took the paper, with the ink scarcely dry on it, and sang it through with the chorus— the new air and the words exactly fitting, without alteration or amendment.I think the Lord gave you the words as truly as he gave me the tune,was Mr. Sankey’s first remark.
And then we commended the little piece and its music to the great Master, praying that the unction of the Holy One might rest upon it. Mr. Sankey sang the hymn for the first time in public that evening, after I had given my address on the Smitten Rock.
Sankey, pp. 279–80
From the riven rock there floweth
Living water ever clear;
Weary pilgrim, journey onward,
Know you not the Fount is near?
Jesus is the Rock of Ages—
Smitten, stricken, lo! He dies;
From His side a living fountain,
Know you not it satisfies?
Without money, without merit,
Come unto Me;
Thirsty traveler, be encouraged,
Know you not the Fount is free?
Fainting in the desert, dreary,
Guilty sinner, hark! ’tis He!
’Tis the Savior still entreating,
Know you not He calleth thee?