Ira Sankey found the poem in a small newspaper in London (The Postman), and gave it the melody and chorus that was simple to sing and easy to remember. The catchy tune and uplifting words work well to help many people through all kinds of storms of life, whether they are related to the weather, spiritual battles or just tough circumstances.
The poem was a favorite of fishermen who had to weather the frequent storms of the northern coast of England, and was often heard being sung by the fishermen as they came into the harbors during a storm. Ira Sankey felt the tune was a “weird minor tune” and so decided to write music that would be more practical and easier sung.
In 1885, Ira Sankey copyrighted the text with his music and chorus. It was titled “My God Is the Rock of My Refuge.” It was based on the following verse:
Psalm 94:22 “But the LORD is my defence; And my God is the rock of my refuge.”
The hymn was published in Ira Sankey song books: Sacred Songs and Solos and Gospel Hymns No. 5.
Paul Eckert, Steve Green's MIDI Hymnal : A Complete Toolkit for Personal Devotions and Corporate Worship., Electronic ed. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1998).
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985), pp. 19, 20.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), p. 212.
Ira D. Sankey, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns and of Sacred Songs and Solos (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Sunday School Times Company, 1907), pp. 118, 119.