When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

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Gal 6 14 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Lord’s Supper).mp3

Our next hymn was written by the son of a Congregationalist minister. He is one of the most well known hymn writers. His name was Isaac Watts. He was born in 1674 in Southampton, England.

In his day, hymn singing consisted of slow, ponderous Psalms in which each line was first read by an appointed deacon and followed by the droning of the congregation.

Typical example of the time is this:

Ye monsters of the bubbling deep, your Master’s praises spout;

Up from the sands ye codlings peep, and wag your tails about.”

One Sunday after returning from a typically poor service, Watts railed against the congregational singing. His father exclaimed, “Why don’t you give us something better, young man!” Before the evening service began, young Isaac had written his first hymn, which was received with great enthusiasm by the people.

He was considered a radical. He wrote a number of hymns based solely on personal feelings. These hymns were known as hymns of ‘human composure’. Our next hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is one such hymn. It was one of the first English hymns to use the word ”I”. This was considered most ‘un-British. It was never the British thing to give expression to personal experience.

I am sure we all know, personal experience is essential, otherwise, salvation is not salvation at all. God offers all gospel blessings to those who have this personal experience. Isaac Watts wrote this hymn by basing his thoughts around this verse from Gal.3:14. Do we want to know what it means to “glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” -? Then let us take note of these words as we sing “When I Survey the wondrous cross”.