The Old Rugged Cross

by Gary Allison Furr

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This was written by George Bennard in 1913. A favorite hymn from my childhood--and adulthood--"The Old Rugged Cross" consistently polls near the top of favorite hymns. It's outward simplicity and heartfelt tune belie a web of contradictions that come into painful view for the Christian church every Good Friday. Shame, injustice, an unjust death of an innocent man. He is despised, suffered, and is ridiculed. And yet, Christians point in utter contradiction to this way of humiliation and suffering as the path to God. Perhaps we have forgotten this in our lust for worldly success in this time, and find ourselves closer to Caesar than Jesus. It is good for us to look once more at this judicial murder, a grieving mother, devastated friends, and all the horrible truth and be chastened back to Him.

I recommend the United Methodist site,hymnary.org to learn more about the great hymn tradition of Christianity. The hymn been loved, but it has its detractors. An excellent account is offered by Dr. Michael Hawn at "History of Hymns: “The Old Rugged Cross”by George Bennard." His series is a wonderful introduction to the history of hymnody.
www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-the-old-rugged-cross

lyrics

1 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.

Refrain:
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.

2 O 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. [Refrain]

3 In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me. [Refrain]

4 To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I'll share. [Refrain]
United Methodist Hymnal

credits

released April 2, 2021
Author George Bennard

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Gary Allison Furr Birmingham, Alabama

Dr. Gary Allison Furr has been playing, writing and singing music his whole life. A veteran of lots of bands of the years, he performed with Shades Mountain Air, a Birmingham acoustic-bluegrass band for twenty years .

He has played as both solo artist and with the band at a variety of venues, including colleges and universities, conferences, churches, coffee houses and festivals.
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