When I Survey the Wondrous Cross was written in 1707 by the same person who wrote the popular Christmas carol “Joy to the World”.
The story of how Isaac Watts came to write not only this hymn but “an astonishing 750 hymns” during his life is given its own Chapter in the new book “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know”.
The chapter begins:
“Charles Wesley, himself one of the greatest of hymn writers, reportedly said that he would give up all the hymns he had penned if he could have written “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”.
If the book sounds familiar you are right – I first blogged about it back in October in my blog post Seventy-Five about it taking pre-orders at the time. The hardcover was released in November 2015. It continues to be a joy to read the many varied chapters in this book and when I had seen the chapter on this hymn I knew to include it for today’s blog post on this Saturday before Easter.
The chapter continues with – “The man who did compose it, Isaac Watts, is widely considered to be the first great English hymn writer, and the headwaters from which the whole tradition of English hymns flowed.”
It talks about there being a family friend who “offered to pay for him to attend either Oxford or Cambridge. But because to do so would have required him to renounce the dissenting religious views that had now become his own, he declined the generous offer and attended a less prestigious school.”
This description of the song is poetic: “With imagery that is beautiful yet horrific, Isaac Watts invites us to join him at the foot of the cross and witness the pain and shock of Jesus’s death while meditating on what it has accomplished for those who embrace the meaning of his sacrifice.”
Today we continued our Easter theme of blog posts as we go about getting ready for Easter tomorrow. Be sure to get directions now to where that sunrise Easter service is if you are thinking of going to one tomorrow!
Attribution & Thank you to the following who are referenced today —
Image of Cover and excerpt: “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film” by Terry Glaspey.
YouTube WHEN I SURVEY (THE WONDROUS CROSS) – Kathryn Scott posted by watchman4wales
AnchoredScraps.com blog post Seventy-Five October 17, 2015 written by Helen Rittersporn