Isaac Watts wrote “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” in preparation for a communion service in 1707. Originally, the hymn was named “Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ,” following the practice of the day to summarise a hymn’s theme in the title. It was first published in 1707 in Watt’s collection Hymns and Spiritual Songs. This hymn is considered one of the finest hymns ever written. It’s the first known hymn to be written in the first person, introducing expressing personal religious devotion rather than limiting itself to only doctrine1.
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.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
Thank you for including this hymn. I am so moved by this wonderful hymn when sung by Luther’s Nordic Choir. I will play their cd this morning to restore my soul