Songspiration: The Old Rugged Cross

Since we are in the Lenten season, I wanted to share some songs with you that depict what and why we are celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. An old favorite is “The Old Rugged Cross.”

What is the definition of the cross? states it as follows:

“1. A structure consisting essentially of an upright and a transverse piece, used to execute persons in ancient times;
2. Any object, figure, or mark resembling a cross, as two intersecting lines; and
3. A mark resembling a cross, usually an X, made instead of a signature by a person unable to write.”

Meaning of the Cross

“The cross is a great contradiction:
Death and life,
Hate and love,
Violence and peace,
Accusations and forgiveness,
Brokenness and wholeness,
All is lost…yet everything is gained,
Destruction and restoration,
Defeat and victory,

The Cross is Love.”–

Research facts about this hymn:

Written by George Bennard (1873-1958), a Methodist evangelist;
Began writing the hymn in 1912 and finished it in 1913;
Published in 1915;
First recorded by two members of Billy Sunday’s staff–1921;
Song speaks of writer’s Christian experience rather than his adoration of God;
The song has been performed by some of the 20th Century’s most important recording artists, including Andy Griffith, Brad Paisley, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash and June Carter, George Beverley Shea, Willie Nelson, etc.

Some of the scriptures (NIV version) that mention the cross are as follows:

I Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…”

Philippians 3:10-11: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings (on the cross), becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Luke 9:23: “Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” (This verse is stated in three gospels: Mathew, Mark, and Luke.)

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is what the cross should mean to each and every one of us.

“On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…”

But Jesus did not stay on the cross. We will once again be celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Let us remember the cross but also that He arose so that we would not perish but have eternal life.


Songspiration: “Amazing Grace”

The song, “Amazing Grace”, has been sung throughout the ages since it was written by John Newton in 1779. Some facts that you may not know about Newton’s famous hymn are:

“The original title was ‘Faith’s Review and Expectation’, not ‘Amazing Grace’.
The song was written in 1779 based on Newton’s study of I Chronicles 17:16-17.
A nearly forgotten verse that Newton added near the end of ‘Amazing Grace’ were the words: ‘The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; But God, Who called me here below, shall be forever mine.'”

This past weekend we attended a memorial service for my sister’s son who died at the age of 41. My husband, a licensed minister, talked about his life and asked those present to remember all the good things that came from his life. He was also a son, brother, husband, father (two daughters), and a friend to so many. I was asked if I could share in song and “Amazing Grace” was the first one that came to mind. I sang it at the last memorial service that we attended and the song is one that everyone can relate to.

So what exactly is grace? According to the Oxford Dictionary…

Grace is (1) simple elegance or refinement of movement; and (2) (In Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

There are several scriptures mentioning grace as follows:

II Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Ephesians 4:7: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In reading these passages, we realize that grace is a gift from God because He “apportioned it” to each and every one of us.

At the beginning of “Amazing Grace”, Newton also mentions another word: wretch. He said…”Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” In what connotation then is the word wretch used? The Oxford Dictionary describes a wretch as follows:

“A wretch is…Old English wrecca (also in the sense of ‘banished person’) of West Germanic origin, related to German Recke ‘warrior, hero’, also to the verb wreak.”

Because of the ‘dangers, toils, and snares’ that Newton found his life following, he recognized that he needed someone other than himself to lift him from his sinful life (a wretch) that he had been following and asked God to deliver him, according to a summary of Newton’s life written by Robert J. Morgan.

Without the help of God, it is easy to get caught up in the “things of the world” and the “temptations” like my sister’s son. His life ended tragically, but now he is in the arms of God.

May we always remember God’s grace in our lives. It is a gift to all of us and a reassurance of God’s love.