3 Hymns With “Cross” in the Title

Christian worship has always revolved around the most defining emblem of the faith: the cross. For twenty centuries Christians have celebrated how Jesus’ crucifixion turned a mode of capital punishment into a symbol of spiritual salvation. Our songs of faith reflect that reality. This post focuses on three enduring hymns of the church, published between the years 1700 and 1915.

Isaac_Watts

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross     1707

Today, Isaac Watts is called the “Godfather of English Hymnody.” He re-invented the church hymn. In the process, he wrote over 600 songs for the church. Song books of his day were usually the Psalms set to music. He chose to  infuse his songs with more New Testament theology. He also preferred easier lyrics for the average church-goer. As in the case of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Watts introduced personal pronouns into his titles.

Isaac Watts was a wordsmith. Along with other songs still sung today (Joy to the World, etc.) When I Survey the Wondrous Cross is full of spiritual passion with vivid images and devotional depth.  It’s pace is contemplative. What happens when you really think about Jesus’ crucifixion?

According to verse one, you feel humility.

“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.”

According to the last line in verse two, you want to surrender: “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.” Given all that Jesus suffered for humankind, verse four reaches the only true conclusion,  “Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

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Fanny_Crosby

Fanny Crosby (1829-1915)

Near the Cross         1869

Fanny Crosby became a Christian under the influence of an Isaac Watts hymn that mentioned the cross. At the end of a church service she attended when she was 31, they sang the  invitation song, Alas and Did My Savior Bleed! Her moment of surrender came during the words of the fifth verse, “Here, Lord, I give myself away.”

The results of Jesus’ crucifixion flow throughout Fanny Crosby’s poems set to music. One song specifically mentions the “cross” in it’s tile: Near the Cross.

The first and third verses are prayers. Verse one says,

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain—
Free to all, a healing stream—
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

She reflects on the cross as her means of salvation. Verse two begins, “Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and Mercy found me.” She prays in verse three, “Near the cross! O Lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me; Help me walk from day to day, With its shadows o’er me.” Verse four states her determination to remain near the cross: “Near the cross I’ll watch and wait Hoping, trusting ever, Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.”

You can read a fuller biography of Fanny Crosby at https://lights4god.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/fanny-crosby/.

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George Bennard

George Bennard (1873-1958)

  The Old Rugged Cross        1913

As with many hymns, The Old Rugged Cross was born out of personal difficulty. Evangelist George Bennard faced his struggles by going to the heart of the New Testament: John 3:16.

He spent a season of prayer and concentration on the cross. The words of his most famous hymn eventually lodged in his mind. After publishing the song describing the power of the cross, the words began finding their place in the hearts and minds of others. The Old Rugged Cross was voted America’s favorite hymn year after year from 1925-1960, 

In each of the three verses, George used strong descriptions of the cross followed by his expressions of personal affinity, concluding with reasons that it means so much to a believer.

Descriptions

 In verse one, he calls the cross, “The emblem of suff’ring and shame.” In verse two, he says it’s, “so despised by the world.” Verse three cuts to the reason people either accept or reject the cross: it’s “stained with blood so divine.” 

Response

The place where our salvation was purchased evokes deep feelings. George represents Christians all over the world when he says (in verse one) “And I love that old cross,” (in verse two) that it “has a wondrous attraction for me,” and (in verse three), “In the old rugged cross… a wondrous beauty I see.” To the non-believer, the rugged, bloody cross is repulsive, but it’s beautiful to those who’ve embraced it’s true purpose  (I Corinthians 1:18).

Reason

Each verse concludes with the sacrifice that launched our eternal salvation. The cross is where God in human form, “For a world of lost sinners was slain.” By choice, “the dear Lamb of God left His glory above, to bear it to dark Calvary.” Simply put, “on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.”

The chorus shouts our unflinching loyalty to the cross:

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.”

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Bibliography

  • Blumhofer, Edith. Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny Crosby.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmands Publishing Company, 2005.
  • Osbeck, Kenneth. 101 Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1982.
  • Petersen, William J. and Ardyth Petersen. The Complete Book of Hymns. Carol Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2008.
  • Terry, Lindsay. I Could Sing of Your Love Forever. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2003.

 

 

 

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: 3 SONG WRITERS WORTH KNOWING

Here’s a re-post about the lives of three outstanding African American song writers.

Thoro Harris

Thoro Harris  (1874-1955)

His gospel themes and children’s songs live on today. Thoro’s lyrics capture both the sense of deep-felt need and the internal peace of Jesus’ provision in songs like “Hide Thou Me” and “All that Thrills My Soul is Jesus.” Read his bio.

 

Thomas Dorsey  [PD-1923]

Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993)

When Thomas turned from a career in non-Christian music, God turned Thomas into the “Father of Gospel Music.” His two most enduring compositions, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “Peace in the Valley,” were forged under difficult circumstances. Read his bio.

 

 

Andrae Crouch

Andrae Crouch (1942-2015)

As a child, Andrae learned to play the piano without a single lesson. He grew up to write and sing songs that won Dove and Grammy awards. Read the stories behind his songs, “The Blood Will Never Lose its Power,” “My Tribute,” and “Through it All” in his bio.

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Lights-4-God Timeline

Thank you for your interest in Lights-4-God. Below is a list of every Christian leader I’ve featured, arranged in chronological order according to the century they were born. After each name is a short description of their main contribution to Christianity. Read any of their biographical posts by clicking the name of the person.


————————————–Born in the 1700’s————————————–

Jonathan Edwards (Revivalist)…………………………………………..10/5/1703

Charles Wesley (Song writer)……………………………………………12/18/1707

David Brainerd (Missionary to American Indians)……………….4/20/1718

John Newton (Song writer)………………………………………………..7/24/1725

Robert Raikes (Sunday School promoter)…………………………….9/14/1735

William Wilberforce (Social reformer)………………………………..8/24/1759

William Carey (Missionary to India)……………………………………8/17/1761

Elizabeth Fry (Prison reformer)………………………………………….5/21/1780

William Colgate (Christian businessman)……………………………1/25/1783

Adoniram Judson (Missionary to Burma)…………………………….8/9/1788

Charles Finney (Groundbreaking revivalist)……………………….8/29/1792

Billy Bray (Lay preacher/chapel builder)………………………………6/1/1794

————————————–Born in the 1800’s————————————–


George Muller (Orphanage pioneer)……………..,,,,,……,,………..9/27/1805

Cyrus McCormick (Christian businessman)………………………..2/15/1809

John Hunt (Missionary to Fiji)………………………………………….6/13/ 1812

Robert Murray McCheyne (Pastor/spiritual leader)……………..5/21/1813

James Hepburn (Missionary to Japan)……………………………….3/13/1815

Fanny Crosby (Song writer)………………………………………………3/24/1820

Anna B. Warner (Song writer)……………………………………………8/31/1820

Alfred Edersheim (Author)………………………………………………….3/7/1825

Robert Lowry (Music composer)………………………………………..3/12/1826

Lew Wallace (Author of Ben Hur)………………………………………4/10/1827

Andrew Murray (Evangelist to South Africa)………………………..5/9/1828

William Booth (Founded the Salvation Army)…………………….4/10/1829

Hannah Whitall Smith (Author)…………………………………………..2/7/1832

Hudson Taylor (Missionary to China)…………………………………5/21/1832

Charles Spurgeon (Pastor/evangelist)………………………………..6/19/1834

E. M. Bounds (Author/prayer specialist)…………………………….8/15/1835

Alexander Whyte  (Pastor/author)……………………………………..1/13/1837

Dwight L. Moody (Evangelism pioneer)………………………………2/5/1838

Philip Bliss (Song writer)……………………………………………………7/9/1838

John Wanamaker (Christian businessman)…………………………7/11/1838

Elisha Hoffman (Song writer)……………………………………………..5/7/1839

Lottie Moon (Missionary to China)…………………………………..12/12/1840

Henry Heinz (Christian businessman)………………………………10/11/1844

Mary Slessor (Missionary to Nigeria)…………………………………12/2/1848

Julia Johnston (Song writer)……………………………………………..1/21/1849

Eliza Hewitt (Song writer)…………………………………………………6/28/1851

R. A. Torrey (Evangelist)…………………………………………………..1/28/1856

Johnson Oatman Jr. (Song writer)……………………………………..4/21/1856

Charles Gabriel (Song writer)…………………………………………….8/18/1856

Charles Sheldon (Author of In His Steps)……………………………2/26/1857

Rodney “Gypsy” Smith (Evangelist)……………………………………3/31/1860

C. T. Studd (Missionary to China, India, Africa)………………….12/2/1860

Jessie Brown Pounds (Song writer)……………………………………8/31/1861

Billy Sunday (Evangelist)…………………………………………………11/19/1862

John Hyde (Missionary to India/prayer warrior)…………………11/9/1865

Amy Carmichael (Missionary to India)……………………………..12/16/1867

Lettie Cowman (Author of Streams in the Desert)………………..3/3/1870

William Seymour (Pastor of Azusa Street)……………………………5/2/1870

Thoro Harris (Song writer)………………………………………………..3/31/1874

Oswald Chambers (Missionary/devotional author)……………..7/24/1874

Helen Cadbury (Founded the Pocket Testament League)……..1/10/1877

Evan Roberts. (Welsh revival evangelist)……………………….,……6/8/1878

Alfred Ackley (Pastor/song writer)…………………………………….1/21/1887

Lillian Trasher (Missionary to Egypt)………………………………..8/27/1887

Henerietta Mears (Founded of Gospel Light Press)……………10/23/1890

Corrie ten Boom (Author of The Hiding Place)……………………4/15/1892

Warner Sallman (Painted The Head of Christ)……………………4/30/1892

William Cameron Townsend (Wycliffe Bible Translators)……..7/9/1896

C. S. Lewis (Author/apologist)…………………………………………11/29/1898

Thomas Dorsey (Song writer)……………………………………………..7/1/1899

————————————–Born in the 1900’s————————————–

Eric Liddell (Christian athlete/missionary to China)……………1/16/1902

Gladys Aylward (Missionary to China)……………………………….2/24/1902

Paul Hutchens (Author of The Sugar Creek Gang series)……..4/7/ 1902

Peter Marshall (Pastor/U.S. Senate chaplain)……………………..5/27/1902

Albert Brumley (Song writer)…………………………………………..10/29/1905

Dietrich Bonhoeffer(Author)……………………………………………….2/4/1906

Dawson Trotman(Founded the Navigators)………………………..3/25/1906

Ira Stanphill (Song writer)…………………………………………………2/14/1914

Paul Brand (Missionary to lepers)……………………………………….7/17/1914

Catherine Marshall (Author)………………………………………………9/27/1914

Bob Pierce (Founded World Vision/Samaritan’s Purse)………..10/8/1914

Audrey Mieir (Song writer)…………………………………………………5/12/1916

Ruth Bell Graham (Godly wife/mother)………………………………6/10/1920

John Stott (Pastor/author)…………………………………………………4/27/1921

Bill Bright (Founded Campus Crusade for Christ)……………….10/19/1921

John W. Peterson (Song writer)……………………………………………11/1/1921

Walter Martin (Apologist)…………………………………………………9/10/1928

D. James Kennedy (Pastor/Evangelism Explosion)……………….11/3/1930

David Wilkerson (Founded Teen Challenge)…………………………5/19/1931

Millard Fuller (Founded Habitat for Humanity)……………………..1/3/1935

Larry Burkett (Financial expert)……………………………………………3/3/1939

Andrae Crouch (Singer/song writer)………………………………………7/1/1942

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DAVID BRAINERD’S 200TH BIRTHDAY

 

david_brainerd_on_horseback1

David Brainerd (1718-1847)

Missionary David Brainerd ministered in the 1700s to native tribes on the American frontier. He introduced the gospel to the Mohican tribe, then to the Delaware tribe. He endured health problems and other hardships. But he served faithfully for as long as he could.

David Brainerd kept a journal. After the young missionary’s death, his father-in-law Jonathan Edwards edited the journal which he published as “The Life and Diary of David Brainerd.”

For answers to the following questions, follow the link below—

  • What caused him to be expelled from Yale University?
  • Why did he turn down an offer to pastor a church on Long Island?
  • What event caused him to write in his journal, “Amazing change this! Affected by nothing less than divine power and grace!”
  • What illness took his life at age 29?

https://lights4god.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/david-brainerd/

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REMEMBERING C.S. LEWIS

 

C. S. Lewis II

C. S. Lewis. Image: butterfunk.com.

 

Clive Staples Lewis was born November 29, 1898.  I posted a biography of him five years ago today.

The 1400-word overview covers seven major points of his life under the headings, “Teen Athiest,” “The Fox Hunt,” “New Purpose,” “Waging War,” Narnia and Christianity,” “Joy and Grief,” and “Remembered in Bronze.”

Read the post  here.

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LILLIAN TRASHER

Born SEPTEMBER 27, 1887

Sacrificial missionary service has a way of inspiring people the world over. Just mention the name Lillian Trasher, known as “Mother of the Nile.”

LillianTrasher

Lillian Trasher  [PD-1923]

The church of God (Cleaveland, Tennessee) includes her in their history. The Assemblies of God claims her as one of their pioneer missionaries. The Episcopal Church calendar honors Lillian’s years of service on December 19 of each year. In Egypt, where Lillian gave over 50 years of her life, she’s esteemed for starting that country’s first orphanage, which continues operating today.

Lillian died on December 17, 1961, but her influence continues. A Muslim man once said of her, “I believe that when she dies, in spite of the fact she is a woman and a Christian, God will take her directly to paradise.”

No Regrets

The initial spark of Lillian’s journey to help children in Egypt began when she was only a child herself. At age nine, she knelt beside a log in a forest and prayed, “Lord, if ever I can do anything for you, just let me know and I will do it.” A few years later, she joined the staff of a faith-based orphanage in North Carolina.

As a young woman in her early twenties, Lillian became engaged. She anticipated her future as a pastor’s wife. Then, while attending a missionary service Lillian sensed God’s call to serve overseas. As a pastor’s wife or as a single missionary, she would be in a position to change lives, but which should it be? Her heart was divided. Ten days before her wedding, Lillian broke the engagement.

Years later, a friend asked if she ever regretted her life-changing decision. She answered, “When I think of Tom, if I had married him, what would have happened to all these children?”

Serving God By Faith 

Assiut_Manflout_Road_طريق_أسيوط_منفلوط_-_panoramio.jpg Photo by the Hypatia Foundation.

Assiut Egypt

A missionary couple invited her to work at an orphanage in Assiut, Egypt. Opening her Bible on board ship before it embarked, Lillian saw Acts 7:34- “ I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.” Lillian stepped onto Egyptian soil for the first time in autumn of 1910.

Three months later she answered a call to the bedside of a dying mother. The mother requested that Lillian take her baby and raise it. That child became the first resident of Lillian’s own orphanage.

The number of children under her care grew. She’d gained invaluable skills at the North Carolina orphanage where she’d worked. She’d also learned to live by faith in God’s daily provision. In the early years, a few gifts from donors came in. Lillian also rode a donkey to solicit help from local supporters.

No Orphans in God’s Family

God takes care of His own. The orphanage survived the first world war. Afterwards, however, an anti-English fervor led to rioting. Lillian wisely returned to America. Her itineration to churches raised the profile of the orphanage and helpful amounts of financial support. In 1920, she returned to Egypt to continue her life’s work.

In 1935, Lillian stated, “He has never failed me all these years and we are being fed like the sparrows, who have no barns or storerooms. Seven hundred little ones. We are still looking to the Lord for our hourly needs. Oh! He is such a wonderful Saviour!”

The orphanage faced a cholera outbreak in 1947. But no child died.

God continued blessing Lillian—one of His children—as she continued caring for orphans according to His word (James 1:27). By 1960, over 1,000 children resided at the ever-growing campus. In 1961, Lillian celebrated the orphanage’s 50th anniversary.

Lillian Trasher in 1951 with babies at the orphanage.

Lillian with babies in the orphanage nursey.

Since 1961

Lillian died in Egypt in December of 1961. She was buried in the orphanage cemetery.  She once said, “I’d rather do this work than anything else in the world–taking care of babies in Egypt.”

Today, the Lillian Trasher Orphanage is a 12-acre campus. It houses 650 children (and widows) and is led by a couple who grew up in the orphanage. Since its beginning, it has welcomed over 25,000 children.

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LET ME KNOW:  How has Lillian’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.

Bibliography————————————————————————————————-

Further resources–

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JOHN HUNT’S 205th BIRTHDAY

 

John Hunt

John Hunt (1812-1848)

He’s one of many pioneer missionaries whose service for God is rarely recalled. John Hunt served in Fiji in the nineteenth-century. The violent culture that he and his wife Hannah ministered to promoted cannibalism.

No matter what he faced, John remained true to a favorite scripture passage— “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4, NKJV).

John and Hannah suffered personal losses along the way but remained committed to introducing the gospel to those who needed it. Here are three highlights of John’s unwavering service to Fiji–

  • Translating the New Testament into the Fijian language.
  • Witnessing a spiritual awakening that turned repentant cannibals into Christians who loved their enemies.
  • Leading the queen of the island of Viwa to embrace Christianity.

Read the complete post of inspiring anecdotes here.

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