Hymn Study- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

I was playing through some songs on the piano this morning and the words to this old beloved hymn just touched my heart.

When I take a look at the cross, where Jesus died, my riches become nothing and I hate my pride. I have nothing to boast, other than Christ. Everything of the world, those things that preoccupy my mind, I sacrifice them to the blood of Christ. His sacrifice for me was full of sorrow and love. No greater love and sorrow have ever met, and it was crowned with thorns.

The third verse, we don’t see very often, and that is such a shame, because it teaches that because of His death, I am to die to self, die to the world, and the world is to die to me. (We don’t like to hear those words today, because we love what the world has to offer more than we love Christ.) That moves right into the meaning of the last verse. If everything in nature belonged to me, all of creation, that would still be a gift too small for our Christ. His Love was so amazing and divine it DEMANDS my soul, my life, my ALL!

When you sing hymns and songs this morning, or listen to them on the radio, listen to what you are singing. You may find that the words do not line up with God’s Word, or you may find that you are offering empty praise and worship to God, because you don’t really mean what the words say. Are you willing to sacrifice the worldly life to the demands of a Savior? Every time you sing this song, that is what you are saying.

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.

Isaac Watts wrote the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” It is reported that Charles Wesley said he would give up all his other hymns to have writ­ten this one.

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