I love the music of the cross. Our Savior, bleeding and dying for us, is the focal point of history, the fulfillment of Passover, and the payment for our sin. When we sing of the cross, we’re singing of Jesus’ love for us. It’s no wonder that there are so many songs about it; it’s the most important thing for us to remember.
When I was in kindergarten, my favorite songs were “Jesus Loves Me,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” Our church had a large, rugged-looking cross in the foyer. I can’t say that I understood all of the words. I didn’t know what an emblem was, and I had only seen little, plastic trophies for memorizing scripture; I wasn’t even saved yet, but my heart was open, and though I didn’t fully understand, the thought of exchanging the cross for a crown sounded amazing.
I took my first voice lessons when I was eleven. We each sang a hymn for our recital, and mine was “Were You There?” My favorite part of that song was when I sang, “I feel like shouting glory, glory, glory!” The song is Jesus’ death and resurrection tied up in one powerful thought. I found a couple of versions of the song on YouTube. This one is a girl, about the same age I was when I performed it for the first time. The second one is performed by Johnny Cash… just ’cause. Neither of them shout glory. It makes me wish I had a vlog, because I’d shout glory for you. When I was in college, one of our professors sang it as a spiritual, the way it was written, and though I can’t wrack my brain for her name, I’ll never forget her singing it.
I learned “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” in high school. I had spent third through eighth grades in a church that focused on praise music, and when I arrived at Alma Heights, I was exposed to so much good, old-fashioned songs and hymns of the faith. I loved learning a song that was from a time when a capella was the norm. I loved the richness of it.
I can’t remember if it was at Alma Heights or my freshman voice class that I learned “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” I do remember that, at the end, after “demands my soul, my life, my all,” my teacher added “shall have my soul, my life, my all.” When I was looking for a video of this song, I encountered it sung to many different melodies. Oh, so many old hymns are like that. The video I linked to is some teens singing it to a very difficult arrangement. Good for them!
Speaking of different melodies, “Alas, and Did my Savior Bleed” was the first hymn I fully wrote a new tune for. Alas, my destiny was not to be a composer.
Finally, “It Was for Me.” This may not be as well-known, because it’s not a hymn. It is a modern choral anthem about Jesus’ life and death. It’s also a song I learned singing in the choir in college. If you’re not familiar with it, watch the video. It has been on my mind a lot today, and sharing it with you is what inspired this blog post.
Well, for a bunch of songs about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, I sure talked about myself a lot. I hope it was a blessing despite me.