The Solid Rock (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)

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Edward Mote, circa 1834
Like the apostle Paul of Tarsus, Edward Mote of London was first a tradesman and then a minister. Mote is one of the only hymn writers to grow up without a knowledge of God, born to parents who managed a pub and are said to have left him much to his own devices. In his teens he heard the Word of God and was baptized at 18. Mote became a cabinetmaker and it wasn’t until the age of 55 (1852) that he begun work as a Baptist minister.

Hymnologist C. Michael Hawn quotes Mote describing: “One morning it came into my mind as I went to labour, to write an hymn on the ‘Gracious Experience of a Christian.’ As I went up to Holborn I had the chorus,
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

In the day I had four verses complete, and wrote them off…. On the Sabbath following… by the fireside composed the last two verses… Brother Rees of Crown Street, Soho, brought out an edition of hymns (1836) and this hymn was in it.” 

The story goes that recently after Mote wrote “The Solid Rock,” he was visiting a friend whose wife was ill. She requested the remember the Sabbath by singing a hymn and Mote drew the lyrics of his hymn out of his pocket and shared it. The woman was so taken with the hymn that she requested he make a copy for her. She became the first admirer of this rousing hymn.

SOLID ROCK, by William B. Bradbury, 1863
William Bradbury was an American gospel composer and also a Baptist. It was printed during the American Civil War in Bradbury’s Devotion Hymn and Tune Book (1964).

The original title for this hymn was “Jesus, my All in All.” 

The identifying features of this hymn as a “gospel hymn” are a simple melody, a 3/4 meter, and a repeating refrain.

Ward points out the progressing themes of this hymn. “From a declaration of God’s grace in the first stanza, to the application of that grace in times of trouble in the second and third stanzas, the writer brings his hymn full circle in the final stanza, with the ultimate realization of God’s grace.”

The Lutheran Hymnal #370

Donovan, Richard Niell. “Hymn Story My Hope is Built on Nothing 2007. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.
Hawn, Michael C. “History of Hymns: ‘My Hope is Built.’” Discipleship Ministries. The United Methodist Church. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.
Ward, Keith W. “A Hymn of Grace The Solid Rock.Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, vol. 11, issue 20, 1998. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

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