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I have sung When I Survey the Wondrous Cross for way to many years. I’m not meaning that in a bad way. It’s just so familar I have most of it memorized. Another Isaac Watts song for you to enjoy.
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?
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
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.
To Christ, who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.
This first youtube video is a tune I don’t often hear, but I thought it was a pretty tune and therefore thought you all might like it too, or perhaps it’s a version that YOU are familiar with. 🙂
lsaac Watts is the author of this lovely hymn. According to the Center for Church Music, this song was written for a communion service. It was originally called “Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ”.
Watts lived from 1674 to 1748. Born in Southampton, England he became a Congregational Minister. He wrote at least 750 hymns over his lifetime. He enjoyed teaching more than preaching, and loved to train people. Preaching to a particular denomination leaning was not his interest.
He eventually took a job as a private tutor for the Hartopps, and through them got to know the Abneys. Watts lived with the Abneys for a large portion of his life.
The lyrics I found in the Cyber Hymnal contained five verses that I am very familiar with. The sixth verse is a new one to me. It’s one of the things I find fascinating with looking at the hymns. Different tradition use different verses to sing, and sometimes they add new ones, change the words, or alter the tune.
This song is no different. Watts wrote a fourth stanza he expected would get left out, and two other verses were later added. I remember a conversation I had with someone on facebook. He understood the desire of people to update hymns to today’s linguistics, but as an author he felt bad for the people who wrote the songs. What would they think of the words they wrote being changed?
I don’t know that Watts would have minded, since he changed some of the words himself. (visit the center of church music to learn more) It just might be something we want to be cognizant of when we change music to suit our present day sensibilities and understandings. It would not harm us to learn the meanings of unfamiliar words and learn to praise God using them, now would it?