When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Last night we sang When I Survey the Wondrous Cross at the Maundy Thursday service at my church, where I assisted with communion. My pastor and friend, David Wheeler, says we Baptists are “liturgically challenged,” and in the churches I grew up in we tended to jump from Palm Sunday to Easter. I find the full walk through Holy Week to be profoundly important to me now.

In singing this hymn, I was struck by how much the words have to do with letting go:

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.

These words are not about self-hatred, despite the word “contempt,” but about keeping perspective on the things we are inclined to cling to, including our own pride.

Here’s a homemade youtube video (less than four minutes long) of someone singing this hymn to a different tune, which I found moving.

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