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Hymn Writers Of The Church by Charles S. Nutter


Keen, R., was a leader of music in the Baptist Church in London, of which Dr. John Rippon (1751-1836) was pastor, and in whose volume titled A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, 1787, the hymn beginning |How firm a foundation| was first published. The tune accompanying this hymn was composed by R. Keen (also spelled |Keene| in some collections), and the letter |K| is signed to the hymn. In a Baptist Collection of Hymns published by Dr. A. Fletcher in 1822 the signature at the end of the hymn is |Kn,| and in the 1835 edition of Fletcher's Collection it is given as |Keen.| Dr. Fletcher was assisted in the preparation of his hymn book by Thomas Walker, who was the compiler of the Tune Book accompanying Dr. Rippon's Selection, and who therefore not only knew Keen, but also knew, we may safely infer, what the |K| stood for at the end of this now famous hymn. Dr. Rippon was also living in 1835, when Fletcher and Walker assigned this hymn to Keen. Putting all these facts together, it is not strange that Dr. Julian and other hymnologists have reached the conclusion that this hymn should be assigned to Keen and not to Kirkham (as in modern editions of Rippon's Selection, published since Dr. Rippon's death) or to George Keith, as was done by Daniel Sedgwick and others, acting wholly in doing so on the questionable testimony of an old woman in an almshouse. In view of these facts, we feel justified in giving Keen a place among the hymn writers of the Church. We await the discovery of information concerning him.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of 461

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