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The Old Rugged Cross Hymn History and Lyrics

The Old Rugged Cross Hymn History


The Old Rugged Cross is one of the most popular Christian hymns in the English world. It is a hymn that leads us to focus on what Christ did on the cross and make his sacrifice our own. 

Being a Christian is not easy but we all need to cling to that old cross and bear the shame and ridicule we might face.

This hymn composed in 1912 by evangelist and song leader George Bennard. He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1873. 

He was converted at the age of 24 after attending a Salvation Army meeting. He later left the salvation and joined the Methodist church in 1910. 

After joining the Methodist church he became an itinerant preacher for the Methodist church. He held revival meetings in the Midwest of the United States.

It was during one of these revival meetings that he came up with this hymn. This was his response to the heckling and ridicule he received from several youths at a revival meeting in Michigan. 

Bernard was troubled by their disregard of the gospel that he turned to the bible to reflect on Christ on the cross.

Here he wrote just the first verse of "The Old Rugged Cross".

He finished the song several months later at another meeting. He was then traveling with Ed E. Mieras. Bernard and Mieras performed the finished song on the last night of the meeting.

Another well-known musician and composer Charles H Gabriel helped Bernard with the harmonies.

The version that we know today was first performed on June 7, 1913, in Pakagon, Michigan at the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon. 

Before this Bernad had performed this song before the sponsoring pastor and his wife, Rev. Leroy, and Ruby Bostwick. It is said that the Bostwicks were moved to tears after hearing this song.

It later became more popular and came to the attention of evangelist Billy Sunday who used it in his meetings. He is the one who popularised this song.

George Bennard


The Old Rugged Cross Lyrics


On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies, at last, I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’t was on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

For more lyrics and stories of hymns visit popular and old hymns history.

Old Rugged Cross Hymn Video.


Gaither Music: Ben Speer, Mike Allen, Judy Martin Hess, Reggie & Ladye Love Smith - The Old Rugged Cross.



Bennard retired to Reed City, Michigan where he died on October 10, 1958. The local Chamber of Commerce erected a cross near his home. He was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

I think you will also be super interested in the following hymns:

When We Walk With The Lord

Be Still For The Presence of The Lord

Master The Tempest Is Raging

There Shall Be Showers Of Blessing

How Deep the Father's Love for Us lyrics

Heaven Came Down

Who Wrote Wayfaring Stranger?

In My Heart There Rings a Melody

In The Sweet By and By

Trust And Obey Lyrics

In Times Like These

More About Jesus



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