Happy second Sunday in Lent!
Given that my taste in hymnody tends towards the archaic, I was rather surprised to learn that this hymn is less than 100 years old (well, it’s almost there—it was written in 1913).
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
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.
Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
The hymn-writer, George Bennard, takes us on a trip starting from the ignominy of the cross, passing through his love for what happened at Calvary, and takes us all the way to eternity. Since I can’t pin down any specific Bible references, here’s a portion of the story behind the song:
On one occasion, after a difficult season of ministry, George realized he needed to better understand the power of the Cross of Christ. He later said, “I was praying for a fuller understanding of the Cross . . . I read and studied and prayed . . . The Christ of the Cross became more than a symbol . . . It was like seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption. While watching this scene with my mind’s eye, the theme of the song came to me.”
–Then Sings My Soul, by Robert J. Morgan, p. 275
Isn’t it true that the hard seasons in our lives have the potential to yield the longest-lasting fruit?