Hymn 27 My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
Text: Edward Mote (1797-1874) Tune: William Bradbury (1816-1868)
1. 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. R/On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.
2. 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. R/
3. 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. R/
4. 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. R/
MEDITATION Hope is what we are living on now. Many around the world today are hoping and praying for a quick and safe end to the quarantine. Fearful of what their prospects are as things open up again, many will discover that such hopes, even if fulfilled, are not enough. They need to hope in something built on more solid ground. Christians are praying that it will be a time of revival as people look for something deeper to build their lives on.
Christian hope is based on faith in the one who died for us and was raised so we might be too. The story goes that in 1834 Edward Mote, the writer of the text, was walking along the way and the words of this refrain came to him, and then the first stanzas. A bit later, he met someone whose wife was dying. He asked Mote to visit her. He brought the hymn along with him and sang it to her. She found it to be a blessing as she faced her death with hope in Christ, the solid Rock. Hearing that it was helpful, Mote wrote the last stanzas and it soon became something of a hit, especially with the Bradbury tune, Solid Rock.
Romans 5:3-5 speaks to our situation. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
We are learning the truth of Paul’s statement now. Can we rejoice in the suffering, the “whelming floods,” coming our way? We might agree that when there is nothing one can do but endure, it produces character, that, or mental collapse. We are seeing that now as people are trying to cope. But how does character produce hope? It has always fascinated me that Paul adds hope to that sentence. He knew the ancient Greeks said that suffering produced character, but for them character could not produce hope. There was nothing to hope for. They just took their fate, like Oedipus, going toward his death with courage, but no hope. The afterlife, if there was one, was not very attractive.
Strong character, in Paul’s mind, gives the confidence to hope because Christ died on the cross for us. The Spirit is daily pouring out his grace into us so we know we can believe. It is true, we have not been deluded. Our hope, which will not be disappointed, is to stand before him “dressed in his righteousness.” We will see Christ as he is, the end of all we have believed in and hoped for. Take courage!
Edward Mote (1797-1874) knew little of the Christian gospel until his late teens. Son of a pub owner, he was left to himself most of his childhood. After his baptism at eighteen, he worked as a cabinet maker until he was in his fifties. He, then, became a pastor in a Baptist church in Horsham, West Sussex, where he served until his death. There are two tunes for the text, Solid Rock, and Melita. Which one you prefer may give a hint as to where you grew up or your proclivities. The Lutheran Book of Worship could not decide so included both tunes. The evangelicals and contemporary musicians tend to prefer the former, Solid Rock; the more liturgical the latter, Melita, otherwise known as the Navy Hymn. Regardless, the text teaches us where our faith needs to be grounded. It has made it over the divide between traditional Christian song and contemporary and has even spawned a very popular contemporary hymn, "On Christ Alone."
John Ferguson’s arrangement of Melita https://youtu.be/kq-AWXvOOag
St. Andrews Youth Choir (Melita) https://youtu.be/Hih2WXGXiJk
First Plymouth Church (Solid Rock) https://youtu.be/RFktMLdeFac