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When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

There once was a time, in the history of the church, when the only singing that was allowed during worship was to sing the Psalms of the Old Testament. There’s nothing wrong with the Psalms, of course, but a young Isaac Watts yearned for music that embraced the rich truths and glorious teachings of the Gospels and the New Testament.

In 1707, Watts wrote a collection of such hymns and published them under the title of “Hymns And Spiritual Songs.” The idea was somewhat scandalous. I mean, church people don’t change that easily and this was something very new and different.

In section 3:7 of his hymnal, there was a song entitled, “Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ, Gal. 6:14.” You know it by a different name but the soulfulness of its music and the incredible message of its lyrics literally changed the music of the church.

Those who found Watt’s book, and who made their way to this new hymn, were so captivated by it’s beauty and depth that the new style of hymns were loved and embraced and a new age of music was ushered into the church.

Watts would go on to be known as the Father of English Hymnody, writing about 750 hymns including “Joy to the World.” His most beautiful offering, though, was also one of his earliest pieces. Some say that it is the most beautiful hymn ever composed. We know it as, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”