When we survey the wondrous cross (Alternate Tune)

When we survey the wondrous cross
On which the Lord of glory died,
Our richest gain we count but loss,
And pour contempt on all our pride.
Our God forbid that we should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, our Lord;
All the vain things that charm us most,
We'd sacrifice them to His blood.
There from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flowed mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
His dying crimson, from His head
Spreads o'er His body on the tree;
To all the world then am I dead,
And all the world is dead to me.
Were the whole realm of nature ours,
That were an offering far too small;
Love that transcends our highest pow'rs,
Demands our heart, our life, our all.
Ana Lara

Storrs, Connecticut, United States

Sir Isaac Watts was born in Southhampton England, in 1674. At the age of 18 he became so irritated at the untuneful hymns sung at the Nonconformist meetings that he complained bitterly to his father. He was challenged by Dr. Wayland to write a few hymns as well as by his father when he told young Isaac, “Make some yourself then. ” Isaac took his father at his word and went on to write the hymn—

Behold the Glorious Lamb.

Once a tune was added, it pleased the worshippers greatly—and that was the beginning of Isaac Watts’ career as a hymnist.

The young writer was learning Latin at age 5, Greek at 9, French at 11, and Hebrew at 13. From the day he wrote his first hymn, he continued to write hymns from his home church and by the time he was 22, he had written 110, and in the next two years 144 more besides preparing himself for the ministry. No. 7 in the edition of the first 110, is found his most precious and well-known hymn—When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Watts was ordained pastor of an Independent Church at Mark Lane London in 1702, but repeated illness broke up his ministry, and he retired an invalid, to the beautiful home of Sir Thomas Abney at Theobaldo. He had firstly been invited to spend a week but ended up spending the rest of his life—36 years.

Steve Miller

Detroit, Michigan, United States

We sang this hymn yesterday morning at church. A 92-year old brother who is an English professor shared that in stanza 3 "sorrow and love" flowed mingled down and in the next line "love and sorrow" met. The order is reversed to give both "sorrow" and "love" equal emphasis. This device is used in Bible poetry also.

IrisCrystal Seok

South Korea

While it was considered as a clearly-spotted appreciation that in brother Witness Lee’s message of ‘Experience of Life’, the lyric of this hymn had been cited by him and related to one of the genuine ‘personal’ Christian experience in ‘consecration’, it was also regarded as a well-spotted adaptation that the original singular pronoun in the previous lyric, where each redeemed saint’s consecration based on each one's revelation was achieved as personal and individual experience in a Christian journey, had been altered to plural one from the perspective of corporate one meal offering in the Lord’s table and in bird’s eye view in God’s economy for the Body of Christ.

Frank Pytel

Chicago, Illinois, United States

This is a precious hymn to me, in that, it relates to my initial consecration to my Savior who poured out HIS all (2 Cor. 8:9)! I was first introduced to this hymn in a book by Witness Lee on consecration as an experience of life. He relates this hymn in the book in the singular pronoun, which I too prefer, as one personally coming into direct touch with the crucified Savior and His love and the response it brings. This contact with HIM and HIS love demanded my all. If this hymn is sung with others, may each one of us in such a gathering have an ear to hear what the Spirit is speaking to unveil the crucified Savior in His love! Yet as I am alone with HIM considering and singing this hymn there is always a response to HIS constraining Love!

John Cowne

Australia, NSW, Australia

I agree with the plural pronoun changes when played in church. I'm singing 'with' my brothers and sisters in Christ.The 'message' we are sending (church is Christians TOGETHER) of our common faith in and love for Jesus is FAR MORE important than to sticking to a misguided tradition. Thank you for making the song biblically and emotionally usable at church.

Paul Zesewitz

Richfield Spgs, New York, United States

This is doubtless the most beautiful hymn ever written in the English language, so why have you altered the lyrics? Dr. Watts wrote this hymn out of PERSONAL experience, and you have made it 'corporate' by changing the pronouns. Was that really necessary?

Robert DeJohn

Merlin, Oregon, United States

This is a spiritual school that asks for us to be honest with who we are. When I can see the truth of this I am reminded of this hymn. I have also studied Gregorian Chant and can hear the simplicity of the tune in that regard.

I would really like to have a copy of the music that is playing.

The marriage relationship of a husband and wife is a case in point. If it rests solely on the basis of right, it will be difficult for their life to be harmonious and sweet. A true marriage relationship not only rests on the basis of right, but the more on love. Because the wife loves her husband, she becomes one with him and lives with him. So it is in a true consecration to God. When we touch the love of God and see that He truly is lovely, we will then consecrate ourselves to Him. Thus, although consecration based on love changes according to our mood, yet, on the other hand, intense consecration is the result of constraining love. Those who have not had the experience of being constrained by the love of the Lord will not have a consecration that is good and intense. This is quite evident. Number 101 in our hymnbook (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross) tells also a story of consecration because of the love of the Lord. It says that whenever I think of that love which saved me, I count everything but loss, because this love is so great. It goes on to say that I see His condition on the cross, His head, His hands, and His feet flowing with sorrow, love, and blood. All this because He loves me! Having seen such a love as this, if I offered to Him the entire universe, I would still feel ashamed, because His love is so noble, so excelling. If I should seek to repay His love, then I do not recognize His love; I even defile it. His love is like a priceless pearl, while my consecration is like filthy rags—we are simply unworthy of Him. One day, when the Spirit sheds this love abroad in our hearts, we too will have such intense consecration.

Piano Hymns