Posted by: rcottrill | November 13, 2010

Today in 1874 – Edward Mote Died

This Graphic Hope Statue.jpgstatue stands on the grounds of the police station in a city near us. It depicts a Canadian Mountie encouraging a boy with the hope that his injured dog will be all right. Hope is something we can’t live without. But hope in this life must always be qualified, unless it rests in God. And that is the ground of the hope described in the Bible.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet. 1:3). We could define biblical hope as: the joyful certainty of future blessing. And, “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19).

About 200 years ago, there lived in England a carpenter and cabinet maker named Edward Mote. As he was on his way to work one day in 1834, his thoughts turned to Christ, the sinner’s only hope. Some lines of verse formed in his mind, and his steady footsteps along the road suggested a poetic metre. To this day, we can hear their echo in the words: “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand– / All other ground is sinking sand.”

In his early years, it would be difficult to see any hint of the godly Christian man Mr. Mote would become. His parents ran a tavern in London. He says, “My Sundays were spent in the streets. So ignorant was I that I did not know there was a God.” Later, he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker and, when Sunday came, his master took the young apprentice to church. It was the turning point in his life. There Mote heard the gospel, and opened his heart to Christ.

After many years as a successful craftsman, he was ordained to the ministry. Near the pulpit in his church is a plaque that reads:

In loving memory of Mr. Edward Mote, who fell asleep in Jesus November 13th, 1874, aged 77 years. For 26 years the beloved pastor of this church, preaching Christ and Him crucified, as all the sinner can need, and all the saint desire.

That is a beautiful summation of his long and fruitful service. And here is a bit of his fine hymn, often entitled The Solid Rock.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

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

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

(2) Today in 1890 – Henry Dexter Died
Henry Martyn Dexter was not really a hymn writer. But he is responsible for giving to the English speaking world what is likely the earliest Christian hymn we have whose author is known. Mr. Dexter was a Congregational clergyman, serving churches in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. For many years he was also the editor of The Congregationalist and Recorder. In addition, he was a scholar of some note, considered an expert on the history of the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony.

Shepherd of Eager Youth (rendered Tender Youth, in some versions) was likely written around the year 200 AD by Clement of Alexandria. Dexter’s work, the only hymn he has given us, is more of a paraphrase than a translation. He says of his adaptation of the original that he “transfused as much of its language and spirit” as he could. He was preparing to preach a sermon on Deut. 32:7, “Remember the days of old,” in which he planned to deal with “some prominent characteristics of the early Christians.” He created his version of Clement’s hymn to go with his message.

Shepherd of eager youth, guiding in love and truth
Through devious ways; Christ our triumphant King,
We come Thy name to sing, and here our children bring
To join Thy praise.

Thou art our holy Lord, O all subduing Word,
Healer of strife. Thou didst Thyself abase,
That from sin’s deep disgrace Thou mightest save our race
And give us life.


  1. Regarding “Shepherd of Eager Youth”, I had never heard it before, but when I started reading it, I chuckled. You see, the meter is, and just today, I decided to have our congregation sing “God Bless Our Native Land”, which is the same meter, using the tune “America.” The only other hymn my Baptist hymnal lists in that meter is “Italian Hymn” by Felice de Giaradini.

    It is a good hymn.

    • Interesting coincidence. “Shepherd of Eager Youth” is worth using once in awhile, just to call attention to how old it is. I believe it gives Christians a sense of the continuity of things, and how really big the church is. Thanks for keeping in touch.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  3. […] the original around A.D. 200, making it the earliest hymn we have from the post-apostolic era. Henry Dexter (1821-1890) made a literal translation of Clement’s work, then versified his English translation. […]


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