Hymn History: “The Solid Rock”

2 min

The sun was rising as people streamed up Holborn Hill, heading to their places of employment. Among them was thirty-four-year-old Edward Mote, the owner of a cabinetmaking shop. As he walked, his mind was filled with thoughts of his security in Christ. These thoughts would become the words to a new hymn: 

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

At his shop, Mr. Mote instructed the workers and then sequestered himself alone in his office. By the day’s end, he had written four verses of his new hymn!

Soon afterward, Mr. Mote was invited to a friend’s home. The host shared how he and his wife usually sang a hymn, read Scripture, and then prayed together. However, the couple’s hymnal had been misplaced. So, Mr. Mote offered: “I have some verses in my pocket; if you like, we could sing them.” The verses were the new hymn written earlier that week in his work office. The host’s ill wife enjoyed the words of the hymn so much that the man requested Mr. Mote to leave a copy for her. Greatly encouraged, he went home, “and by the fireside [I] composed the last two verses . . . and sent them to [her].”

Edward Mote understood the solid foundation and security that Christ provides. Raised by unbelieving parents, he had often been left to play with other boys and to do as he pleased. His teachers did not tell him about God. Mr. Mote’s youth was empty and aimless. When he was a sixteen-year-old woodworking apprentice, his instructor took him to hear the famous preacher, John Hyatt. Two years later, the apprentice gave his life to Jesus and planted his feet on the Solid Rock forever. Sixteen years after his conversion, Mr. Mote wrote the hymn that testified of the security he experienced in Christ:

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.

Eventually God called Mr. Mote, now a successful businessman, to the pastorate. Mr. Mote also penned more than 100 hymns. His life exemplified security as he intentionally structured his life around God’s work and invested in eternity. He once remarked: “The truths I have been preaching, I am now living upon, and they do very well to die upon.” A tablet near the pulpit in the Horsham church that he pastored sums up well the life he lived, secure in Jesus. It reads: “In loving memory of Mr. Edward Mote, who fell asleep in Jesus November 13, 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 can desire.”

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