December 15, 2012

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

On Which the Prince of Glory Died

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross is one of the most beloved hymns of Isaac Watts (1674-1748). First published in 1707 as part of his collection: Hymns and Spiritual Songs, it was written for a communion service and was originally called Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ. Charles Wes­ley is said to have remarked: that he would give up all of his 6000 hymns to have written this one. It is set to the tune Rock­ing­ham (1790), attributed to composer and one time flautist in the orchestra of George Fredrick Handel, Ed­ward Mill­er (1735-1807). In the Liturgy of the Hours, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross is used during Lent and Holy Week.

WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS by Isaac Watts, 1701 (Public Domain)

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.

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.

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?

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. To Christ, who won for sinners grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.

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