Scripture Verse

There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.@1 Timothy 2:5–6

Introduction

portrait
Isaac Watts
(1674–1748)

Words: Is­aac Watts, Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs 1707–09, Book 2, num­ber 9. God­ly sor­row aris­ing from the suf­fer­ings of Christ. Ralph E. Hud­son wrote the re­frain in 1885.

Music: Mar­tyr­dom Hugh Wil­son, 1800 (🔊 pdf nwc) (does not use the re­frain).

Alternate Tunes:

  • Abney (Hull), Asa Hull (1828–1907) (🔊 pdf nwc)
  • Hudson, Ralph E. Hud­son, Songs of Peace, Love and Joy (All­i­ance, Ohio: 1885) (🔊 pdf nwc) (us­es refrain be­low). It is with this tune that the hymn is known as At the Cross.
  • Liberty Hall, in Wy­eth’s Re­po­si­to­ry of Sac­red Mu­sic, by John Wy­eth, 1810 (🔊 pdf nwc)
illustration
Crucifixion
Simon Vouet (1590–1649)

Background

[In] the au­tumn of 1850…re­viv­al meet­ings were be­ing held in the Thir­ti­eth Street Me­thod­ist Church. Some of us went down ev­ery ev­en­ing; and, on two oc­ca­sions, I sought peace at the atlar [sic], but did not find the joy I craved, un­til one ev­en­ing, No­vem­ber 20, 1850, it seemed to me that the light must in­deed come then or ne­ver; and so I arose and went to the al­tar alone. Af­ter a pray­er was of­fered, they be­gan to sing the grand old con­se­cr­ation hymn,

Alas, and did my Sav­iour bleed, and did my Sov­er­eign die?

And when they reached the third line of the fourth stan­za,

Here Lord, I give my­self away,

My very soul was flood­ed with a ce­les­tial light. I sprang to my feet, shout­ing hal­le­lu­jah, and then for the first time I real­ized that I had been try­ing to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the oth­er.

Crosby, p. 24

Lyrics

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Refrain

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine,
And bathed in its own blood,
While all exposed to wrath divine,
The glorious Sufferer stood!

Refrain

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Refrain

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Refrain

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

Refrain

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Refrain