When we survey the wondrous cross

1
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.
2
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.
3
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?
4
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.
5
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.
4
Mary Thomas

Tiruvalla, Kerala, India

I fully agree with the comment of 20th July 2014. It should be sung in the singular.


Samuel Tello

NYC, NY, United States

This beautiful and precious hymn written by such a gifted lover of God, should never be sung in the plural. It should always be sung in the singular as Isaac Watts meant it to be sung. Try to sing it in the singular, in a prayerful way and you will understand what I mean.


Mike Hobson

Leicester, United Kingdom

My all time favourite hymn ~ although I much prefer the original words that use "I" and not "we" and "our" making it more personal and in my opinion, meaningful.

I have often thought of the words when I have been too selfish and used them to regain perspective.


Johannes

Jomtien Beach, Chonburi, Thailand

Isaac Watts has penned such absolutely awe-inspiring words which have been a beacon of light and a compass of hope to me in my 60 years of missionary service. Rev. Charles Wesley reportedly said he would “give up all his other hymns to have written this one. His words bring boldness in the face of Satan's attacks, and comfort and solace in times of discouragement.”

Watts expresses his reverence, respect, wonder, sublimity and gratitude when contemplating the cross. It is indeed, a holy cross, but in this hymn, it is "wondrous". It leaves us speechless when we contemplate this wonder of wonders. In what does this wonder consist? On this undignified, ignominious cruel object, the wooden cross, placed between another two which bore the bodies of criminals, on this ignominious object we do not have a criminal but the "Prince of Glory".

Words like these far surpass the limits of our human reasoning. Why should a prince, THE Prince, die on such a symbol of ignominity? Everything fades into oblivion as we try to understand, as we contemplate: "my richest gain I count but loss". Our pride, the pride of us mortals, is so absurd, when placed in this context, as to be contemptible, "pour contempt on all my pride". If anyone deserved to be proud and exalted it is this Prince of Glory that chose to die with such humility. It has been a lesson in humility for me as I have served the poor and needy. A person contemplating the cross loses all sense of pride. He stands naked before the cross, stripped of whatever in which He takes pride.

The blood flowing from His head, hands and feet becomes of the mingling of sorrow and love. It becomes sorrow for the pain and suffering and love because He bore this for each one of us. Sorrow and love "flow down", down to those who stand at the foot of the cross, to those who boast in the cross, those that embrace the life-giving cross.

May the words of this greatest of hymns and the other great hymns of the church bless and inspired you as the have me in my years of service in the Lord’s kingdom.--Dr Johannes Maas, president, Worldwide Faith Missions

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.

The fifth step is the turning. For example, after the remembrance of the Lord, we need to turn to worship the Father. Sometimes the Lord's table has not reached the point of worshipping the Father, but a brother selects Hymns, #33; sometimes a brother selects Hymns, #101 immediately after the bread and the cup have been passed. Both are inappropriate. Hence, there is the need of a sixth step for correction. Sometimes a meeting may be quite long. For example, when a great number of saints gather together, it may take a longer time for the bread and the cup to be passed. If this is the case, there may be the need to maintain the spirit through a hymn or some prayers. This is the seventh step, maintaining the spirit for the meeting. Even though we use hymns and prayers to maintain the spirit, there may still be the need to fill up the time with more prayers and singing. This is the eighth step. Then toward the end of the meeting comes the ninth step to sing a concluding hymn. Sometimes even though the meeting has ended, there is still a lingering air; thus, we may select another hymn to send the saints off. This is the tenth step. This can be compared to sending off a friend who has visited you by walking a distance with him.