Tuesday, April 11

Sweetest Frame

I've decided to deal with each of the questions about the wording in hymns in a separate post. The first question was the one that came from a search query that led to this site: What does the word frame mean in the hymn The Solid Rock. The first verse to the hymn goes like this:
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.
Here is a summary of the answers given in response:
  1. The word frame is referring to a "frame of mind". This explanation was tentatively given by me. Kevin gives a similar response:
    If you had a moment, one blissful moment, when you were sure your heart was right toward God, and you could rejoice in the darkest prison before your imminent death, you would have experienced a moment in the sweetest frame.
    So if this response is right, then the idea is that we oughtn't trust in our good feelings toward God, but in Christ himself. According to my dictionary, the word frame was indeed used this way, particularly in the 18th and 19th century, when it was
    used as a disparaging term for emotional states as a criterion of the reality of spiritual life.

  2. Some understand the word to be referring to something undergirding and supporting, like the frame or foundation of a building. From Kim of Hireath:
    I always thought it meant not to trust (build upon) any other foundation except the name of Jesus. Christ is our Solid Rock upon which we built our foundation. So frame, to me means what we are building on the foundation.
    Judy, and Catez had similar ideas. This response has the whole context of the verse going for it. The thought is on building, and a frame as a support for something being built makes sense in that context.


  3. Charlie looked the word frame up in the Oxford English Dictionary, and suggests that an older meaning of the word may be in view. The word once meant "an advantage or benefit".
    So, in this case, it means that my trust isn't placed in any benefit I might conceive of except the cross and the name of Jesus.
    I pulled out my big old OED, and sure enough, the very first definition given is "advantage, benefit, profit" with a quote about the resurrection of Christ being our frame. I suspect that this usage of the word may have been obsolete by the time this hymn was written, however, since the last quoted usage of it in that way is in 1330.


  4. Hal understood frame to refer to another person:
    So I've always taken the hymn to be saying 'I dare not put my trust or faith in any other person no matter how good they look or appear or seem, but upon Christ alone I will trust for everything and everyone else is lesser than He.

  5. Jeff found a variarion on the words to this hymn in the Lutheran Hymnal.
    My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteous;
    No merit of my own I claim
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
    So, as Jeff says, this may be an "old question" that this revised version of the hymn is attempting to answer.
Whew! That was fun. As I have time, I'll get to the other questions. Meanwhile, are there any comments on this question and the possible answers to it?

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