Cornerstone – Explained
Cornerstone – Explained

Cornerstone – Explained
(Tim Barton)

Over recent weeks a few people have asked me about the meaning behind some of the words of the song ‘Cornerstone’ that we have been singing together for a few weeks now. I think it is important that we understand what we’re singing together as a church family, and know the meaning in the words and phrases that we use.

The first thing that many would realise is that this song, written by Hillsong, directly lifts its verses from a well known traditional hymn, Solid Rock. This hymn was written by Edward Mote and published in 1837. Mote was a pastor at RehobothBaptistChurch in Horsham, West Sussex and wrote around 100 hymns.

The chorus reads,

“On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand”

The sweetest frame
I have been asked what the song means by the phrase ‘the sweetest frame’. As these words were written over 150 years ago it is difficult for us to know exactly what Mote was referring to as he crafted these inspired words. Having done a bit of research on the word ‘frame’, it could mean a number of different things. Some sources suggest it means our earthly frames, as in bodies, that we are so fragile and mortal, and can put no trust in ourselves or others. Other sources suggest it’s about a frame of mind, that we cannot even trust our own thinking. However, I came across this great explanation for the word –

‘In the first stanza, hardly a clearer statement of total dependence on Christ could be made. Mote recognizes that our hope for eternal life depends completely upon Jesus’ righteousness, not on some sweet earthly frame. Nothing in this hymn ever hints that any work on our part can add to Christ’s work in order to secure our eternal salvation.(
Therefore, as we sing ‘I dare not trust the sweetest frame’ we must think of all those fragile, temporal and earthly things that we put our hope and trust in. Perhaps its finance? Perhaps its family? Our own righteousness? Our own success? Or a certain belief of how the Lord views us? We must also think about all our attempts to make ourselves acceptable to God. We must challenge ourselves, and remind ourselves to not trust in these earthly frames, but only in the completed and full work of Christ.

My anchor holds within the veil
This is the second phrase people have asked me about. What’s the veil? And why does our anchor hold there? For this I believe we must turn to Hebrew 6.

19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6 v 19-20)
How incredible is this! Mote captures in one short phrase the timeless truth of our assurance of salvation and coming before God. So often we can doubt our position of coming before God thinking, ‘I could never stand before such a Holy God’, and we would be right! However, Mote reminds us that our hope is not that we can come before God, but our hope remains that Jesus entered into that most Holy Place, and tore the curtain (veil) that divided God and Man. And that now, in Him, we can be fully confident to come before the Father, because of Christ’s work on the cross. As we sing these words may we again remind ourselves that we have a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, that Jesus has gone as a forerunner ON OUR BEHALF! What a great hope.

Hillsong have a number of resources to support this song, they even have a four part small group study series which you can download for free –