Rose: Hymns – My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

As someone born into an irreligious family and raised in an environment that never held a Bible, Edward Mote must have found it a breath of fresh air, a solace, a secure hope when he first heard the Word of God at the age of sixteen. He was born in London in 1797. Despite his upbringing and school years, after his visit to Tottenham Court Chapel, a fire for the Gospel began to burn in young Mote.  This fire grew for two years, and he grew to find the “precious blood” to be the bringer of peace in his life and was baptized. 

This peace turned to passion for hymn writing. Though he was a cabinet maker for thirty-seven years, Mote wrote many hymns during this time, most of which were published anonymously. In fact, he later had to prove his authorship when others tried to claim his hymns as their own. Many of his hymns are found in a hymnal called Hymns of Praise, published in 1836. Even so, most of Mote’s hymns have been forgotten, save the Gospel song, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.” Nearly thirty years after its publication, the poem was put to music by William B. Bradbury, a composer of many famous hymns. Yet the words to this beloved hymn are different than what we use now, and some of the verses have been combined, some lines erased altogether:

Nor earth, nor hell, my soul can move,
I rest upon unchanging love;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
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.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest upon unchanging grace;
In every rough and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant and His blood,
Support me in the sinking flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
I trust His righteous character,
His counsel, promise and His power;
His honour and His Name’s at stake,
To save me from the burning lake.
When I shall launch in worlds unseen,
O may I then be found in Him,
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne

But a church called “Rehoboth Baptist Chapel” in Horsham was in need of a pastor. Though they had seen a few, none remained any great time until Edward Mote came to serve the congregation in 1848. He continued in service to this church for twenty-six years, asking for nothing more than the pulpit. After an extended illness, he was laid to rest in November of 1874 in the yard of the Chapel.

Though the words have been somewhat changed, and the tune adapted on a number of occasions, Mote’s “Solid Rock” has remained a song to cling to by many aching hearts in congregations for nearly two centuries. This hymn is a reminder that all our hope, faith, and trust is in Jesus and His love for us. Nothing can separate us from that love, nothing can compare, and nothing else is worth hoping for. 

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.

What is hope? It is more than a vain wish—a desire for some future, temporary benefit. Hope is assurance, trust, and confidence in what the Lord has promised us. And what is the foundation of this hope? It is nothing less than Jesus’ innocent suffering and death, His sacrifice of His holy and precious blood shed for us and for our salvation (1 Pet 1:18-21). We do not trust any profit found elsewhere or vain hope given by this fleeting world or the lies of the evil one, no matter how alluring those benefits appear to be (Eph. 3:8-9, Psa. 146:1-6). No, our faith is only in Jesus, who He is, and what He has does for us. 

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

This is why we call Christ the solid rock. God has been referred to as a rock all throughout Scripture, but we learn further in the New Testament that God does not change and His salvation is sure (Isa. 33:6, Psa. 18:2, 40:2, 56:10-1369:13). We are given a great illustration in the Gospels. The Lord speaks on how those who hear His Words and does what He says is like a man who built his house on a rock rather than on sand (Luk. 6:48-49). No matter what may come, nothing will tear away our firm foundation of Christ and what He has done for us (Rom. 8:28-39, 2Tim. 2:19). 

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.

Yet even though we have this firm foundation in Christ, and though we have heard His promise to never leave us, sometimes events in our lives try to hide Him from us (Heb. 4:16, 13:5). There will be times that we walk through dark valleys and devastating times (Psa. 23, 46:1-3, 2 Cor. 12:9-10). But even then, in the midst and in spite of our circumstances, our confidence is sure because we serve a Rock, a Strong Tower, an unchanging and incorruptible God who will sustain us, love us, and protect us (Psa. 57:10, 94:17-19, Lam. 3:22-23, Heb. 6:16-20, Jam. 1:17, 1Pet 5:10). 

His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.

This verse is a continuation of the last verse, but it adds an image that reflects the refrain. “When all around my soul gives way.” What a powerful image! Like the rock in the parable, our foundation on Christ is firm and secure (Psa. 27:5, Isa. 43:1-2). Our life might be filled with dark times. Our friends may abandon us, our possessions lost, our hope torn at. We may lose our very lives. Yet we are not afraid, but rest secure. Christ’s promises remain, our hope firm, our fear dismissed (Psa. 16:9-11, 56:4, 118:6). The earth could be destroyed, and still the promises of God will endure (Psa. 46, 1Sam. 15:29, Gal. 3:14, Eph. 3:6, 1Pet. 1:21).

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.

Finally, what we have hoped for patiently will be seen (Rom. 8:23-25) . Christ will return at last and we will live with Him forever (Matt. 24:30-31, 1Cor. 15:52-58). Yet this verse also holds a little Law in that it reminds that we must continue in what the Lord has commanded us (1Jhn. 2:24, 2Thes. 2:14-17). Then on that day, we may approach the throne of God and dwell with Him in perfection and righteousness, glorifying and praising Him forever (Heb. 4:16, Rom. 14:10, Luk. 21:36).  And thanks be to God that He sent His Son to make us pure in His sight! (Col. 1:21-23, Eph. 1:3-10). Thus, we stand on Christ and His promises, asking Him daily for His aid, until that day when we may be with Him (Phil. 3:8-14, 2Pet. 3:14).

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


Works Referenced

“Edward Mote.”

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

Ramsbottom, B.A. Sing Aloud in Jesus’ Name. 100-01. 

“‘Rehoboth’ Baptist Chapel, New Street, Horsham.”

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