when I survey

When I sit quietly and meditate on the wonderful cross on which the Prince of glory died, I have to count my most valuable possessions as nothing but a miserable burden, and in humility, despise my own conceitedness and arrogance.

Lord, do not allow me to gloat over any achievement other than the cross of Christ my God. All the useless and worthless things that monopolise my affections, I offer them as a sacrifice to his blood.

From the wounds in Christ’s head, hands and feet, I see not only blood, but also sorrow and love flowing, mingling together. When has there ever been such a portrayal of love and sorrow together in one person? Or when did a brilliant, bejewelled, regal crown ever display the richness and beauty and kingship of the crown of thorns worn by our Lord?

Like a shroud, Christ’s dying blood envelops his whole body, and like Christ, I as his body, the church, I die to the world, and all that is in the world and all that the world epitomises is dead to me.

If all the universe were mine to give back to God, it would in no way repay all that Christ has done for me. For such love demands nothing short of my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748) complained to his father about the ponderous and awkwardly worded metrical psalms they were required to sing in their church worship services. His father challenged him to write a hymn suitable for the congregation to sing.

So he did. In fact he wrote hundreds of hymns. ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ was one of the hymns he wrote, and it is still a favourite of many.

I wrote this paraphrase a number of years ago in an effort to grasp a deeper understanding and appreciation of what Jesus Christ did through his death on the cross for me, and to give my response to Christ.

I thank God for hymn writers like Isaac Watts, as well as modern song writers because they are able to express in verse what we in the congregation have in our hearts. And we can sing our little hearts out to God on Sundays, and every other day of the week.

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross – Fernando Ortega


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I am a Christian and my purpose in life is to give honour to the Lord Jesus Christ in all I do and say.

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