On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross, where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true –
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my Home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
As we approach Easter, we contemplate more and more the mystery and wonder of Jesus’ death on the Roman place of execution – the cross. Those rough, wooden beams were not things to cherish in those days! Yet Jesus transformed the cross into an emblem of love and hope for the whole world. If only the whole world knew and believed this!
George Bennard wrote this beloved hymn among three hundred others, but this is the one for which he is remembered, perhaps partly due to its widespread use by George Beverly Shea. Bennard was born into a coal-mining household in 1873, and eventually followed in his father’s footsteps, working in a mine to support his widowed mother and four sisters. The family lived in Ohio and Iowa. In Lucas, Iowa, George came to accept Christ in a Salvation Army meeting. Following his marriage, he served the Lord as a Salvation Army officer for some years, before becoming an interdenominational evangelist in the United States and Canada. He died in Michigan in 1958. How we are indebted to him for the endearing warmth – and the challenge – his words have brought to us!
Craig Wayne Boyd – The Old Rugged Cross (The Voice 2014 Semifinals)
George Beverly Shea