At The Cross

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This great consecration hymn by Isaac Watts had a major role to play in the conversion of American hymn writer Fanny Crosby.

The following is Fanny Crosby’s own account:

[In] the autumn of 1850…revival meetings were being held in the Thirtieth Street Methodist Church [, New York City]. Some of us went down ev­ery evening; and, on two occasions, I sought peace at the atlar, but did not find the joy I craved, until one evening, November 20, 1850, it seemed to me that the light must in deed come then or never; and so I arose and went to the altar alone. After a prayer was offered, they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, “Alas, and did my Saviour bleed, And did my Sovereign die?” And when they reached the third line of the fourth stanza, “Here Lord, I give my self away,” my very soul was flooded with a celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting “Hallelu­jah,” and then for the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the other.

Lyrics: Isaac Watts
Chorus: Ralph E. Hudson
Music: Ralph E. Hudson

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Refrain:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
‘Tis all that I can do.

There is another tune to this hymn without the refrain which I will be publishing in my next post.

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2 Responses to “At The Cross”

  1. Ruthie says:

    With every selection I receive, I can see how God works through you. When I chose the Christian faith this song became dear to me because every time I think of the cross the burdens of my heart always seems to roll away. Thanks for citing how it came about…My daughter can’t stop requesting that I play this tune! Kudos!

  2. Kerry says:

    When Saul was plagued by evil spirits David would play his harp and Saul would be soothed. In that alone is evidence of the powerful impact that music can have on our souls. The worship we read of in Revelations, the numerous comments regarding worship of God throughout the Scriptures, make it clear, at least for me, that while God is love He is also music. There is something in sound that affects our spirit, for is it not written that faith comes through hearing, and the sheep know their master’s voice?

    Listening to these hymns today has been a feast for my soul and moving beyond the ability of words to express. This week – sigh, and so well up the tears yet again – my dear friend Dallas went home, the result of a heart attack. The family has asked me to prepare and conduct the service in his honor. Today I have been reading hymn lyrics and listening to music as I seek the best hymns for the service.

    A long time past, when I was a younger man, Dallas was the deacon at my first church; what fast and firm friends and brothers in the Lord we became. What a joy and constant source of support he has been to me these past 27 years, and what a loss to bear. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus (who I believe to be God Himself), when confronted with those who wept at the tomb of Lazarus, even though He knew that He would soon raise him from the dead, did not chasten them for lack of faith, but Himself wept in response to their anguish and pain. How gracious is our God who even sympathizes with our weaknesses.

    What you have provided here has been a vehicle for God’s grace and comfort for me. As I have listened my faith has been strengthened, the sweetest of memories stirred – more felt than remembered, and my spirit has been uplifted. Thank you for your faithfulness in being one of God’s servants to the family to which all followers of Christ our Lord belong. He has done great things through you for me, and I am certain for many others. I ask our Father now that He reward you beyond your imagining in the Kingdom to come.

    In closing, I would add that the piano playing for this particular hymn “At the cross” is in my opinion so beautifully exquisite that for me it is almost too lovely to listen to, just as our Lord will be so beautiful as to be almost too painful for our eyes to gaze upon. I am no musician, though I do sing. Nonetheless, I would say that the player’s unadorned, simple rendition expresses a purity and humility fitting to the worship expressed in its lyrics.

    Thank you again for providing us with this glorious and moving selection of music, expressing the hopes, desires, sufferings, struggles, and loves of those who have gone before us.

    God’s grace and love be upon you and all who listen to these songs, for as long as there are ears to hear, and beyond.

    In His Name, and for His glory,

    Kerry.
    (Australia)

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