Story Behind the Hymns: ‘My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less’

So ignorant was I that I did not know there was a God. My Sundays were spent on the streets (of London) in play.” Those were the words of Edward Mote, who rose from an unruly childhood to become a great writer and minister. He composed only one song, but a great song it is, indeed. It has been a favorite of people around the world.

In his early adult years, Mote attended Tottenham Court Road Chapel where he heard sermons by the noted John Hyatt. He soon learned from Hyatt’s sermons that Jesus Christ could take away all the fears of life and give him the peace of heart and mind that he had long desired.

He became a carpenter apprentice and through hard labor and conscientious efforts came to own his own cabinet shop. One day while walking to his work, he began thinking that he should write a hymn. Before he reached his shop he had the chorus:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

Before the day ended, he had four stanzas. The following Sunday, he visited in the home of a friend, a minister, whose wife was at the point of death. During the afternoon, they read from the scriptures and prayed with her. As the preacher looked for a hymnal to sing from, as was his custom, he could find none. Mote reached into his pocket and pulled out his verses and asked if they might be sung to her. And so they were. She seemed to enjoy them very much. Mote was so pleased that she found comfort in his verses, he had 1,000 copies printed for distribution among his friends.

“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.” Chorus:“On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”

Sometime later, Edward Mote became a Baptist preacher. His efforts made it possible for a house of worship to be built for his congregation. They were so grateful they offered to deed the property to him, but he replied, “I do not want the Chapel, I want only the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that.”

He served this congregation for more than 20 years, never missing a single Sunday for any cause.

In his 77th year, as he lay on his bed of sickness, he replied, “I think I am going to heaven. Yes, I am nearing port. The truths I have preached I am now living upon, and they will do to die upon. Ah! The precious blood, which takes away all our sins. It is this, which makes peace with God.”

What a victorious ending of a useful life. He was reared in a godless home, learned an honorable trade and gave it all up to become a preacher. His memory will remain for generations because he took time one day to write a simple gospel song.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” – Matthew 7:24

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