The Solid Rock | Audio

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About the Hymn: The Solid Rock

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. – Psalm 39:7

Our hymn focus this month is The Solid Rock by Edward Mote and William Bradbury. Now, while William Bradbury might be a name people recognize within hymnody, Edward Mote is not a name that many people might recognize; however, the testimony of his life is one that should inspire all Christians. Edward Mote was born on January 21, 1797, in London, England. He was not brought up in a godly home, and did not have the advantage of being exposed to the Bible early on like many of the other hymn writers we have read about. In fact, his parents managed a local inn and pub in London and often neglected young Edward, who spent most of his Sundays playing in the city streets. Of his spiritual upbringing, he said, “So ignorant was I that I did not know that there was a God.” His parents even sent him to a school where the Bible was neither taught nor permitted.

At the age of 16, Edward took up an apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker. One day his master took him to hear the preacher John Hyatt at the Tottenham Court Chapel. This experience would change Mote’s life, as he was exposed to the scriptures for perhaps the first time in his life that day. Mote writes that the sermon made him “think on his way,” and two years later he was converted to Christ and baptized. This event, however, did not send Mote immediately into the ministry. He would go on to settle in Southwark, a suburb of London, where he became known for the next 37 years of his life as a successful cabinetmaker and a devoted churchman.

Eventually, at the age of 55, Mote became pastor of a small Baptist church, which, through his own personal effort, he helped build and establish in Horsham, Sussex, England. When offered the title to the church building by the grateful parishioners, Mote said:

I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit, and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that.

For the next 21 years, he faithfully ministered every Sunday in the pulpit, not missing a single day. He eventually resigned from this pastorate in 1873 due to poor health, and died the following year at the age of 77. Assurance and security were Edward Mote’s constant companions throughout his long life. Even when his health began to fail and he was approaching death he felt a renewed confidence in the merit of the blood of Christ:?

I think I am nearing Port. But the truths I have preached I am living upon, and they will do to die upon, Ah! the precious blood! The precious blood which takes away all my sins; it is this which makes peace with God.

Edward Mote was buried in the churchyard of the Horsham church. When he died, the congregation erected a plaque with the following inscription:?

In loving memory of Mr. Edward Mote, who fell asleep in Jesus November 13th, 1874, aged 77 years. For 26 years the beloved pastor of this church, preaching Christ and Him crucified, as all the sinner can need, and all the saint desire.

It was with this background that Mote wrote our Partnering to Remember hymn this month, The Solid Rock. It was during his career as a cabinetmaker that this hymn came into being. The text was written in 1834, and Mote originally titled it The Gracious Experience of a Christian. He would go on to publish the hymn anonymously in a local publication, changing the title to The Immutable Basis of a Sinner’s Hope.

Due to the initial anonymity of the hymn, a dispute was raised questions regarding the hymn’s true authorship. To clear up the issue, Mote sent a letter to the editor of the Gospel Herald assuring its readers that he was the hymn’s author, and explaining how and when he wrote it:

One morning it came into my mind as I went to labour, to write a hymn on “The Gracious Experience of a Christian.” As I went up Holborn I had the chorus, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

In the day I had four first verses complete, and wrote them off. On the Sabbath following I met brother King as I came out of Lisle Street Meeting…who informed me that his wife was very ill, and asked me to call and see her. I had an early tea, and called afterwards. He said that it was his usual custom to sing a hymn, read a portion, and engage in prayer, before he went to meeting. He looked for his hymn-book but could find it nowhere. I said, “I have some verses in my pocket; if he liked, we would sing them.” We did, and his wife enjoyed them so much, that after service he asked me, as a favour, to leave a copy of them for his wife. I went home, and by the fireside composed the last two verses, wrote the whole off, and took them to sister King…As these verses so met the dying woman’s case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thou­sand print­ed for distribution. I sent one to the Spiritual Magazine, without my initials, which appeared some time after this. Brother Rees, of Crown Street, Soho, brought out an edition of hymns, and this hymn was in it. David Denham introduced it with Rees’ name, and others after…Your inserting this brief outline may in future shield me from the charge of stealth, and be a vindication of truthfulness in my connection with the Church of God.

The completed hymn text for originally consisted of six stanzas, but we will only be focusing on four of those verses and the refrain, this month:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When every earthly prop gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Clothed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

The two verses that you don’t commonly sing, but which were included in the original hymn text, were:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
Midst all the hell I feel within
On His completed work I lean

I trust His righteous character
His council, promise, and His power
His honor and His name’s at stake
To save me from the burning lake

Edward Mote wrote more than one hundred hymn texts throughout his life. Many of these were included in his hymn collection entitled Hymns of Praise, A New Selection of Gospel Hymns, Combining All the Excellencies of Our Spiritual Poets, With Many Originals, published in 1837.

The music for Mote’s text was composed, in 1863, by William Batchelder Bradbury, one of the foremost composers of early, American, gospel music. It first appeared in his collection, The Devotional Hymn and Tune Book, published in 1864, by the American Baptist Publication Society. This was the only, new Baptist hymnal to appear in our country during the Civil War years. Bradbury is also the composer for hymns such as: Depth of Mercy, Even Me, Sweet Hour of Prayer, as well as He Leadeth Me, Jesus Loves Me, and Just As I Am. Other well-known hymns for which Bradbury has contributed the music include: Tis Midnight–and on Olive’s Brow, Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, and There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth.

About this Recording

Executive Producer: Shelby T. Murphy

Engineered and Mixed by: Jeff Carver and David Jackson

Vocals: Elizabeth Sullivan and Keri Murphy

Banjo: Zachary Banister

Acoustic Guitar and Glockenspiel: Shelby T. Murphy

Violins: Mary Gleeson

Cello: Brian Haver

Produced by: Justin Bailey, Jonathan Fuller, and David Jackson

Recorded and Mixed at:

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One Comment

  1. Thank you! This hymn has tremendous significance for our family. It is on our youngest daughter’s tombstone. She is Mary Earley’s little sister Amy and she liked singing this song. Not so much, perhaps, for its theological significance, but for a child the idea of sinking sand is pretty curious. We heard 1,000 people sing this hymn at Amy’s service and it will forever, until we see her again, remind us of where our feet and our future rest. You are instruments of God’s grace to us. He is good and doesn’t forget our heartaches.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Sweetest Frame | Verse 1 | Redemption Hill Music - [...] Posted on Sep 12, 2011 in The Solid Rock | 0 comments Tweet ...
  2. His Unchanging Grace | Verse 2 | Redemption Hill Music - [...] On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand All other ground is sinking sand All other ground is sinking sand ...
  3. Sunday Rhythm | September 18, 2011 | Redemption Hill - Connecting Christ to Life - [...] by William Batchelder Bradbury and Edward Mote. You can download a FREE recording of the hymn at Redemption Hill ...
  4. Destinations « Luggaged - [...] again Redemption Hill is offering a free song. This time it’s “The Solid Rock” done in Redemption Hill [...]
  5. The Immutable Basis of a Sinner’s Hope | Verse 3 | Redemption Hill Music - [...] Posted on Sep 18, 2011 in The Solid Rock | 0 comments Tweet ...
  6. My Hope and Stay | Verse 3 | Redemption Hill Music - [...] Posted on Sep 18, 2011 in The Solid Rock | 0 comments Tweet ...
  7. Sunday Rhythm | September 25, 2011 | Redemption Hill - Connecting Christ to Life - [...] by William Batchelder Bradbury and Edward Mote. You can download a FREE recording of the hymn at Redemption Hill ...
  8. Found in Him | Verse 4 | Redemption Hill Music - [...] Posted on Sep 26, 2011 in The Solid Rock | 0 comments Tweet ...
  9. Clothed in His Righteousness | Verse 4 | Redemption Hill Music - [...] Posted on Sep 26, 2011 in The Solid Rock | 0 comments Tweet ...

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