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At the Cross (Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed)

At The Cross Hymn Story

At the Cross is one of the most popular hymns that I heard when growing up. I remember hearing this song almost every Sabbath. It was the favorite of most of the people in my congregation. 

The author of this song is none other than the famous hymn writer, Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748). Isaac Watts was a minister of the word of God and wrote poems and hymns to go with his sermons. 

He grew up as a member of a group of Christians who were called non-conformist or Dissenters. They were called that way because they believed that the Church of England did not break away enough from the teachings of the catholic church. His father was sent to jail twice for his convictions.

Isaac Watts grew up at a time when people believed that all songs should be directly taken from the scriptures. Isaac Watts disagreed saying that if we can pray to God using our own words (sentences) then surely using our own words (sentences) in songs should also be acceptable.

His songs were criticized heavily by the Church of England and the Catholic church. They said his songs were "uninspired" as they were not direct quotations from the bible.

The history of Christian music has not been a smooth one. The music that we accept today was considered anathema a long time ago. Change is slow in religion.

It is said that he wrote over 600 hymns and is sometimes referred to as the father of English hymns. Another hymn that is still famous even among non-churchgoers is the Christmas carol, Joy to The World.

The original title for this song was, "Godly Sorrow Arising From the Sufferings of Christ" and it did not have a refrain and the tune is now lost. It was only later in 1885 that Ralph F Hudson added the refrain and that tune that we use now.

Another interesting thing that I have just discovered is that this song played a big role in the conversation of another famous prolific hymn writer, Fanny Crosby (1820 -1915). Crosby is the author of so many hymns that are still popular 100 years later after her death. Some of her best-known hymns include Safe in the Arms of Jesus, Rescue the Perishing, Blessed Assurance and Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior. She collaborated with famous musicians of her day such as Ira D Sankey.

Fanny Crosby records the following concerning her conversion: 

"..After a prayer was offered, they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, “Alas, and did my Saviour bleed, And did my Sovereign die?” And when they reached the third line of the fourth stanza, “Here Lord, I give my self away,” my very soul was flooded with a celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting “Hallelu­jah,” and then for the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the other."

Isaac Watts

At The Cross Hymn Lyrics

Alas, and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where
I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Was it for sins that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
 And shut His glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man, His creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears.
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
’Tis all that I can do.

For links to more stories and lyrics click here.

At the Cross Video

Gaither Vocal Band - Official Video for “At the Cross (Live)"


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