I walked one day along a country road,
And there a stranger journeyed, too,
Bent low beneath the burden of His load;
It was a cross, a cross I knew.
“Take up thy cross and follow Me,”
I hear the blessed Saviour call;
How can I make a lesser sacrifice,
When Jesus gave His all?
I cried, “Lord Jesus!” and He spoke my name;
I saw His hands all bruised and torn.
I stooped to kiss away the marks of shame –
The shame for me that He had borne.
“O, let me bear Thy cross, dear Lord,” I cried,
And lo, a cross for me appeared –
The one, forgotten, I had cast aside –
The one so long that I had feared.
My cross I’ll carry till the crown appears;
The way I journey soon will end—
Where God Himself shall wipe away all tears,
And friend hold fellowship with friend.
Perhaps this song has been deemed too fanciful and sentimental for inclusion in the 2015 Song Book, yet it has a wistful, moving quality that we can savour when we read, sing or hear it. It has been said that “the cross is always voluntary”, and we should also realise that one’s own individual cross may not be a burden to bear, but rather an appointed task.one’s own individual cross may not be a burden to bear, but rather an appointed task. Click To Tweet
When Alfred Henry Ackley wrote this hymn, he surely was imagining himself into the scene he described, and perhaps considering how to apply it to a calling or task in his own life. He was born in 1887 in Spring Hill, Pennsylvania and was the younger brother of B. D. Ackley, another hymnwriter. Alfred learned music from his father, as well as studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and he became an accomplished cello player. After graduating from Westminster Theological Seminary in Maryland, Alfred Ackley was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1914, and went on to serve in churches in Pennsylvania and California. He also worked with the Billy Sunday and Homer Rodeheaver evangelistic team, and for Homer Rodeheaver’s publishing company. Alfred Ackley was another prolific songwriter, having written around 1500 hymns and secular songs. One familiar Easter hymn of his is “He Lives!” Ackley died in California in 1960.