Day One: “The Old Rugged Cross”

While growing up, one of the classic hymns I loved singing around Easter time was “The Old Rugged Cross” written by George Bennard.  Singing it always led my heart to a certain depth of reflection and thankfulness for God’s love displayed on the cross and here is the story behind the song:

“George Bennard was born in Youngstown, Ohio, shortly after the end of the Civil War. His father, a coal miner, moved the family to Iowa, and there George came to Christ through the ministry of the Salvation Army. He felt impressed to train for the ministry, but his plans were disrupted when his father’s death left him responsible for his mother and sisters. He was sixteen years old. Eventually George’s obligations lessened…and he was able to begin in ministry with the Salvation Army. Later he was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal church and became a traveling evangelist.

On one occasion, after a difficult season of ministry, George realized he needed to better understand the power of the Cross of Christ. He later said, ‘I was praying for a full understanding of the Cross . . . I read and studied and prayed . . . The Christ of the Cross became more than a symbol . . . It was like seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption. While watching this scene with my mind’s eye, the theme of the song came to me.’” (Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories)

John 3:16 NIVFor 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.

As we are at the beginning of Holy Week, may we continue in thankful reflection and pray for a fuller understanding of the cross.

Prayer: Father, I ask for your Spirit’s illumination that I may have a fuller understanding of the cross of Christ.  May the reality and power of the cross become alive to me, “like never before” that I may walk more in Christ’s redemption and healing “in every way.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In humble reflection and thankfulness, let’s sing this version of “The Old Rugged Cross” by Reawaken Hymns (click here).

– EK