This week, my nephew played in the orchestra that accompanied three choirs singing for the Easter service at the College Church at my alma mater. I went with my sister to hear him. Imagine my delight to see that hymn on the program. I could hardly wait to hear it. I just love the words, especially the third verse.
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 hands, His head, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Where the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all.
The Selah Publishing company website offers this History of the Hymn:
"Isaac Watts first published "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" in his Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707). Designated a communion hymn, it appeared under the heading "Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ; Gal. 6:14." One of the first English-language hymns to use the word "I" and to focus directly on personal religious experience, "When I Survey" holds an important place in the history of hymnody. It offers an example of how Watts, sometimes called the father of English hymnody, enlarged the boundaries of English sacred song beyond the metrical psalms to include freer verse that readily lent itself to new musical settings. Watts fused two traditions of sacred song that had been developing side-by-side-metrical psalms and hymns-in texts characterized by unusual clarity and force in the choice of words."
Photo: from Snapshots of Joy graphics