Five Days of Hymn Stories
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
[T]he message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
—1 Corinthians 1:18
Isaac Watts is known as the “father of English hymnody.” Of his 750 hymns, the best-known is When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.
He based it on Paul’s words, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
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 Lord;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
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.
Theologian Matthew Arnold called it “the greatest hymn in the English language.”
Unfathomable love compressed into a single scene:
the cross of Christ.