Week of Hymns – When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

There is no doubt that music plays a large part in Christian worship, and even our daily lives. The Jews relied heavily upon their Psalms. Music is truly a sound of the divine.

During this week, I am posting a series on a few of my favorite hymns. I will tell a little about their background, and include a youtube video. I am very near to be being tone death. I know that I cannot sing, and frankly, I am come to terms with this flaw, but I in bypassing the musical sounds, I listen to the words being said. In truth, the songs today do not hold a candle to those of yesteryear.

Our first tune is ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,’ written by Isaac Watts.

When our dear friend first put pen to paper to compose these hymns, he was accused of all manner of mischief. Change brings out the worse in people, it seems, but Isaac was not deterred, and the world was made better for it. This hymn was written in 1707, originally entitled “Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ,” following the practice of the day to summarize a hymn’s theme in the title. It is the first know hymn to be written in the first person, indicating a religious experience from the author.

Some variations in the hymn can be found, such as the hidden fourth stanza, set in brackets so as to be left out if needed.

“His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree:
Then am I dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Other alterations have been made to this hymn through the years. For example, line 2 originally read “Young Prince of Glory,” but in the second edition of the hymnal, Watts changed it to “When God, the Mighty Maker, died.” It has also been “When Christ, the Lord of Glory, died,” “When Christ, the Great Redeemer, died,” and “When Christ, the Great Creator, died.”

The Lyrics:

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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