Sunday, January 23, 2022


Isaac Watts’ hymn ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, written in 1707, is widely sung and widely loved. Charles Wesley reportedly said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one.

It’s the first known hymn to be written in the first person, introducing a personal religious experience rather than limiting itself to doctrine, although its doctrine is profound.

Watts wrote five stanzas for the original version but put the fourth stanza in brackets, indicating it was the most likely one to be left out, if need be. Its message is moving–

His dying crimson, like a robe,

Spreads o’er his body on the tree:

Then am I dead to all the globe,

And all the globe is dead to me.

When we realise the incredible price Jesus paid to redeem us, by giving his life-blood, then we too, die–to the world and all that is in it. We realise where true value lies.

And we live daily crucified with Christ, always carrying about in our bodies the dying of the Lord (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 4:10). It may mean pain. It may mean tears. It will certainly mean self-sacrifice.

But that is the way of the cross.

To read more on this topic see Living in the Image of God, Barry Chant (Miranda: Tabor, 2012 available in eBook and Paperback) from which this edited extract is taken.

Barry Chant

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Barry Chant is a regular speaker at church services, seminars, conferences and conventions. Hundreds of thousands of his books have been sold around the world. He has degrees in arts, theology and ministry, a diploma in education and a PhD in history. He was the co-founder and former president of Tabor College, Australia.

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