As their ship burned, passengers who jumped overboard sang out “Rock of Ages” as they waited to be rescued from the water.
This story comes from Carl Price’s One Hundred and One Hymn Stories:
The author, the Rev. Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778) bitterly opposed the doctrines preached by the Wesleys, who lived at the same time, but his sincere Christian piety produced this great hymn, that has become endeared to many generations of Wesleyan followers.
Years ago* the steamer Seawanhaka burned at sea. One of the Fisk Jubilee singers was aboard. Before jumping into the sea he fastened life preservers on himself and his wife; but someone snatched hers away from her. In the water, however, she put her hands on his shoulders and thus kept afloat until, almost exhausted, she said to her husband, “I cannot hold on any longer!” “Try a little longer,” begged the agonized husband. “Let us sing ‘Rock of Ages’.”