The hymn writers whose songs have influenced Christians through the years haven't always come from a Christian background. Edward Mote, the author of "The Solid Rock," grew up in an ungodly home in London. His parents were innkeepers, and he knew nothing about God or the Bible. Mote was born in 1797 and, as a youth, was an apprentice to a cabinet maker. When he was a teenager, his master took him to hear the preaching of John Hyatt, an evangelist-missionary who preached in the slums of London. Mote received Christ as his Saviour, and his life was greatly changed.
This cabinet maker had a great interest in writing and singing hymns. One morning as he walked to work, the lines came to his mind: "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand," which became the refrain, and by the end of the day, he had written four stanzas. The following Sunday, he was asked to call on a friend's wife, who was seriously ill. In those days, one would sing a hymn or read the Bible and pray together when making such a visit. Mote couldn't find his hymnal, so he used the verses he had just written and sang the verses to the melody of a well-known hymn. The words ministered so to the wife that she asked for a copy. Mote went home, wrote two more stanzas, and took a copy to the dying woman. He published the song two years later, in 1836, in a collection called "Hymns of Praise, A New Selection of Gospel Hymns." It is believed that this is the first time the term "gospel hymn" was used.
At the age of fifty-five, Mote became a Baptist preacher, and he built the building for the Strict Baptist Church in Horsham, England. Out of gratitude for their pastor, the congregation offered to give him the deed to the property. His response was, "I do not want the chapel. I only want the pulpit, and when I cease to praise Christ, then turn me out of that." He served there for over twenty years until poor health caused him to resign in 1873, one year before his death.
The tune for "The Solid Rock" was composed by William Bradbury in 1863. Based on the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27), most hymnals combine the original six stanzas into four instead. The author is known to have written more than 150 hymn texts in his lifetime, but this song is the best-known one. It reminds us that there is no other foundation, frame, or name by which one can be saved.
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).
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