Friday 30 March 2018

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

For this year’s Good Friday. We used to sing this in the first home church to which I belonged, but I haven’t sung it in a congregation for over 30 years. As a precocious teenager, I decided I would like this to be sung at my funeral. I think I still would. I like that it seems to tell a story. I like it as a statement of what really matters – ‘My glory all the cross’. I think I was aware even as a young lad of its somewhat sentimental tone; but, for me at least, it stays on the right side of mawkishness!

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock
Within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter!
O refuge tried and sweet!
O trysting-place where heaven’s love
And heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch
That wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Saviour’s cross to me
A ladder up to heaven.

There lies, beneath its shadow,
But on the farther side,
The darkness of an awful grave
That gapes both deep and wide:
And there between us stands the cross,
Two arms outstretched to save;
Like a watchman set to guard the way
From that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me;
And from my smitten heart, with tears,
Two wonders I confess:
The wonders of His glorious love,
And my own worthlessness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss:
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.

Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane (1830-1869)

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