When I Survey

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?

There are not many hymns that provide a first-hand account of the passion of the cross like this one. This hymn puts us at the foot of the cross; affording us a small, bitter taste of the powerful emotion of the crucifixion. And every emotion was present at the cross: sorrow, joy, hope, despair, contempt, relief, anguish, pride, humility, anger, love. It was a defining moment for mankind. Yet only Jesus recognized the significance of the event. He paid a great debt, a debt that was not his own, but his children’s – the same children who mocked, scorned and killed him.

Jesus knew he would rise again. He knew he did not have to die. Why bother? Why not use miraculous powers to stop the crucifixion. Why go through all of this human pain?

Jesus was born among us. He lived among us. And he died among us. He paid a price for us because he loved us. He wanted us to know that he understood and cared. Jesus’ pain was very real just as our pain is very real. Jesus’ death was very real just as our death is very real. But most importantly, Jesus’ resurrection was very real and his promise of eternal life with him is also very real.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;

A number of hymns have posed the question “How can I say thanks?” The point is: we can’t say thanks. If we had everything, all the possessions the world has to offer, and we gave it all to God as a sign of our thanks, it would still fall short of the gratitude we feel.

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

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