When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts (1674-1748), was the author of hundreds of hymns, many of them still being sung today. He is generally considered the “Father of English Hymnody”. While it is true that quality sometimes suffers at the hands of quantity, such cannot be said of Watt’s hymns. His prolific hymn-writing was not at the expense of solid, biblical truth, and a careful reading and study of them in the light of Scripture would be of great spiritual benefit and blessing to all who would make the effort.

His best known hymn is, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. Rather than enlarge upon the words here, I would simply encourage you to read the words. Read them prayerfully. Meditate upon them deeply. Think of the depths of truth surrounding the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that are displayed in these lines.

Charles Wesley (the famous Methodist hymn writer of over 6,000 hymns!) is reported to have said he would have given up all his hymns to have written this one! Though most hymnbooks only have 4 verses to the hymn, there are two more that are generally omitted. Here then are the 6 verses of Isaac Watts’ famous hymn.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

To Christ, who won for sinners, grace
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race
Forever and forevermore.

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