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At the Cross

This week’s video features the hymn, “At the Cross.” The lyrics were written by Isaac Watts in 1707, and have been used as the text for at least two hymns, including ”Alas! And Did my Savior Bleed” and today’s hymn. Not a lot is known about the history of the lyrics. Isaac Watts was born in Southampton in 1674. He was the son of a schoolmaster, and began studying Latin at age four, and writing verses by seven. At sixteen, he moved to London to study under Reverend Thomas Rowe. After being assistant minister for four years at the Independent Church on Berry St, London, he became pastor in 1702. Ten years later he moved to Abney Park at the request of Sir Thomas Abney, and there he spent the remainder of his life preaching and writing until his death in 1748.

Watts wrote a large number of sermons, treatises, poems and hymns during his life time. Many of his hymns were written specifically to be sung following his sermons. Some of his more popular hymns include “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, “Joy to the World!”, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun”, and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”

The music for today’s hymn was a composed by Ralph E. Hudson in 1885. He also added the refrain. Hudson was born in Napoleon, OH in 1843. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He spend five years teaching at Mt. Union College in Alliance and went on to established a publishing company in the same city. Being a strong Prohibitionist, he published The Temperance Songster in 1886. He composed tunes for a number of hymns, including “I’ll Live For Him”, “O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing”, and “Blessed Be the Name”.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head 
For sinners such as I!

Was it for crimes that I have 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 myself away—
‘Tis all that I can do! 

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!

5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

1 Peter 2:24

16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

1 John 3:16

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