My Hope and Stay

Many of us are familiar with the classic hymn, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” by Edward Mote, written in 1834. But have you ever stopped to think what is meant by the phrase, “he then is all my hope and stay”? The word stay has many meanings, but I’m pretty sure Mote was thinking of this definition when he wrote those words: to provide physical or moral support for (sustain); to fix on something as a foundation (merriamwebster.com). 

The British pastor most likely based this hymn on the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew and Luke. In this parable, Jesus explains how we are to build a foundation for life on the written word of God, which points to Jesus himself, the living Word. He is our support and our sustainer through anything life throws at us. 

Another meaning of the word, one which Mote may or may not have had in mind, is of a stay that holds a corset together, or a heavy rope used on a ship to secure the mast or spar. In the corset, stays were typically made of bones and on a ship, the rope stays were necessary to keep the masts in place.

If you’re like me, you have probably been through times when you felt you were barely holding yourself or your life together. It’s amazing and unifying to think this song from almost two hundred years ago can still point us to the security and stability we find in God, who is our only hope and most secure stay.

Author: ttkach

Writer, cyclist, paper-crafter, mom, gardener.

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