Week 5 - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

(Week 5)

I am sure over this past Easter weekend, many people thought of or maybe even sang the song, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”. This is probably Isaac Watt’s most well know hymn. Watts was labled in later years as the “Father of English Hymnody.” I love the parable Jesus told in Matt 13:51-52.
This parable reminds us that, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old”.
For Watts, what he wrote was cutting-edge, today for us it is an “old treasure”. The version of Isaac Watt’s hymn we sing at Orchard contains a chorus that was written in 2001 by Chris Tomlin giving us “treasures of the new”.

Version is Sung by Pat Barrett

Tim Challies reminds us of this particular hymn and its history:

“It was a daring move when, in 1707, Isaac Watts published his first book of hymns. At that time it was the practice of almost every congregation of the Church of England to sing only Old Testament psalms in their public worship. However, Watts had grown to dislike this because it restricted the Christian from being able to explicitly celebrate in song all those aspects of the gospel that are fulfilled and illuminated in the New Testament.

In the preface to Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Watts addresses the worship situation of his time and offers a defense for writing and publishing new music. Within Watts’ book, under the section “Prepared for the Holy Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper” is the first public printing of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Concerning the hymn’s creation, there is no special story that singles it from among the many others he wrote. (He is credited with something like 750 hymns.) But what makes the hymn unique is the particular beauty of its language and imagery, and the power with which it highlights the most significant event in human and personal history — the cross of Jesus Christ our God.
Watts’ giftedness for writing hymns, combined with his courage in publishing them, would eventually turn the tide against singing only psalms and set a new standard for Christian worship in the English language.
 
Verse 1
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.

Verse 2
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.

Vesre 3
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?

Verse 4
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.
 
Chorus
by Chris Tomlin
Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross
All who gather here by grace, draw near and bless Your name