I’ve always loved the song “The Solid Rock.” But awhile ago, a phrase leaped out of the lyrics and cracked me over the head. This led to research about the song and some of the obscure phrases it contains.
What does it mean, after all, “when all around my soul gives way?” To “trust the sweetest frame?” What does “within the veil” mean?
I’m not sure if conservative Anabaptist churches sing this song more than other denominations or not. But if I had to point to a kind of “theme song” in my church experience, I think this might be it. In fact, I would love at this moment to sing it at the top of my lungs in a huge auditorium full of acapella singers, as I often have.
Previously I mentioned the upside of a small church – sharing life stories is possible. But singing together, on the other hand, is most wonderful with a crowd.
According to the internet, “The Solid Rock” was written by Edward Mote. Edward was raised in a God-less home, but turned to the Lord after attending church. The preacher, John Wyatt, promised that Jesus Christ could remove all of his fears. Edward believed him, and in turn believed Jesus.
Edward put himself to work at an honest trade. He became an apprentice at a wood-working shop and eventually owned a cabinet shop. One day while walking to work at the shop, he felt that he should write a hymn. Before he reached his destination, he had the words for the chorus. Perhaps he had just read the Matthew 7 account of the solid rock and the sinking sand, since the song references that Scripture. By the end of the day, he had composed four stanzas.
The next Sunday, he visited a minister friend whose wife was dying. After reading Scriptures to her, the minister looked for a hymnal but couldn’t find one. Edward Mote reached into his pocket and asked if they could sing his new song. They did, and the dying woman enjoyed the words immensely. Thus encouraged, Edward made 1,000 copies of the song for his friends. The original title of the song was “The Immutable Basis of a Sinner’s hope.”
He later gave up his cabinet shop and became a minister himself. At age 75, when dying, he said, “The truths I have preached I am now living upon; and they will do to die upon.”
I plan to share a few more posts about some of the obscure language in this hymn. In the meantime, I got the chills watching this virtual choir arranged by David Wesley, complete with American Sign Language, and a few conservative Anabaptists. 🙂