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Behind The Song: When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

As we approach the week we call the Passion of the Christ (Palm Sunday through the Resurrection/Easter Sunday), I wanted to share something about one of the songs that will be on the live stream this Sunday.

In 1707 Isaac Watts, the father of modern Christian hymnody wrote the hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Watts, whose father was a pastor, was burdened as a young boy that the church only sang psalms during their worship times. As wonderful as they were, the psalms did not tell the story of God’s salvation through Christ’s life, the cross, His death and resurrection. They did not celebrate the grace, the mercy, the atonement, or the second coming of Christ, so Watts started writing hymns for their church’s worship services. This stirred up great controversy, but this hymn (along with the other 750 he wrote) gave Christians of Watt’s day (and ours) a way to express a deeply personal gratitude to their Savior. It is considered one of the finest hymns ever written.

I especially love the last verse: Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. I am writing this on my spiritual birthday, March 31. The day I gave my life to Christ as a 15-year-old high school sophomore. His amazing love changed my life! It has been my joy to give Him my life.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.

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