OK, true confessions… how many of you have heard modern worship music and said to yourself, “These words are so shallow and lack genuine power?” I bet many of us feel that modern songs are too limp and powerless, and so did Isaac Watts… the year was 1707!
Isaac Watts wrote this song because he was deeply disappointed in the new songs being written at the time, which he believed did not inspire believers to genuine worship and holy living (and haven’ we all been there?).
He wanted to convey the seriousness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and what we must offer in return for such a gracious gift.
In Watts’ day such hymns were termed “hymns of human composure” and they stirred up great controversy. At the time, congregational singing was predominately ponderous repetitions of the Psalms. But this hymn gave Christians of Watts’ day a way to express a deeply personal gratitude to their Savior. The well-loved song continues to stir our hearts today.
All that we have and are, all that we long to be is a small offering in return for the great work Jesus has done for us! This song is the cry of my heart because, despite my many faults, I genuinely want to serve my Lord with all my heart, and live a holy life.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.