At the age of 17, Rippon attended Bristol Baptist College in Bristol, England.
In 1787 he published an important hymnal, A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended to Be an Appendix to Doctor Watts’ Psalms and Hymns, commonly known as Rippon"s Selection, which was very successful, and was reprinted 27 times in over 200,000 copies. Many hymns originally published in Rippon"s Selection are preserved in the Sacred Harp. After the death of John Gill, he assumed Gill"s pastorate, the Baptist meeting-house in Carter Lane, Tooley Street, which moved in 1833 to the New Park Street Chapel in London, from 1773 at the age of 20 until his death, a period of 63 years.
He also edited the Baptist Annual Register for 12 years.
He was considered the foremost authority on the hymns of Isaac Watts. Rippon"s church was later pastored by Charles Haddon Spurgeon before moving to the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle in Southwark.
Rippon"s Selection of hymns were used by the congregation until 1866 when Spurgeon produced an update called "Our Own Hymn Book" which borrowed much from Rippon and Watts. Like John Gill, he looked for a large scale conversion of the Jews at the end of the age.
At the time of his death, he was working on a book commemorating those buried in London"s Dissenter cemetery, Bunhill Fields, where he himself was buried.