I am the song leader in my church. I am not very proficient as a musician or a choral director. I pray that, someday soon, God will send someone more capable, to take this ministry from me. But for the time being it is my responsibility to select the music and lead the congregation in the singing every week.

I take that responsibility seriously. The hymns and songs that I select must be doctrinally sound, they must be appropriate for worship with a God-centered worldview, and, withing those parameters, I try to select music that will reinforce and, support the text and subject of my pastor’s messages.

Some of us have been singing the hymns for years; the words roll off our lips but the messages often don't engage our minds or penetrate our hearts. With the apostle Paul, I want the congregation to "sing with understanding."

So for the past couple years, it has been my practice to select one hymn each week, research it, and then highlight it with a short introductory commentary so that the congregation will be more informed regarding the origin, the author's testimony, or the doctrinal significance of the hymns we sing.

It is my intention here with this blog, to archive these hymn commentaries for my reference and to make them freely available to other church song leaders. For ease of reference, all the hymn commentaries in this blog will be titled IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Other posts (which will be music ministry related opinion pieces) will be printed in lower case letters.

I know that some of the comments contain traces of my unique style, but please feel free to adapt them and use the content any way you can for the edification of your congregation and to the glory of God.

All I ask is that you leave a little comment should you find something helpful.

Ralph M. Petersen

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Friday, March 18, 2016


Edward Mote was not raised in a godly home. He didn’t have the advantage of an early exposure to the Word of God.  His parents, who managed a pub in London, often neglected their son.  Edward spent most of his Sundays on the streets of the city.

About his own childhood, he said: "So ignorant was I that I didn’t even know that there was a God."

But, eventually, Edward heard the Good News of the Gospel.  He believed and was baptized at the age of 18 years.

Some pastors call their pulpits, “The Sacred Desk.”  I had a pastor, once, who had placed a little, engraved message for everyone who ever stood behind the pulpit in his church.  It was a cautionary reminder with these words from Scripture, "SIRS, WE WOULD SEE JESUS."

That’s grace!  That’s the only basis for our Salvation.  "On Christ THE SOLID ROCK I stand. All other ground is sinking sand;"

Edward Mote worked as a cabinetmaker for 37 years but it wasn’t until after his 55th birthday, that he became the pastor of a Baptist church in Horsham, Sussex.  And for the next 21 years, he did not miss a single Sunday preaching the Word of God. 

He was so well-loved by his congregation that they offered him the title deed to the church building.  But, to that, he said:  “I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that.”

I am amazed at that statement.  It was profound.  Edward Mote understood that the Church is not about a building; it’s about the pulpit.  It’s about the preaching of the Written Word of God which, we know, is inseparable from the Living Word of God.  

There is a good reason that so many churches place the pulpit right up front in the center of a raised platform.  It is there to expose, elevate, and expound the Word of God so that the people can clearly see Jesus.

Edward Mote's, THE SOLID ROCK, is listed among the greatest hymns of the Christian faith.  It reminds us that our salvation, our only Hope, is in the shed blood of Jesus (a sacrifice for our sin), and His righteousness imputed to us.

Simply put, "I owed a debt I could not pay; Jesus paid a debt He did not owe."  

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.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

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.

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.


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


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