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Each of the articles in this resource reflects on a piece of music to explore the meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection.

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” - hymn by Isaac Watts with lyrics

"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" - hymn by Isaac Watts, audio only


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 to 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.

Originally called “Crucifixion to the World

by the Death of Christ” | Isaac Watts


• Which phrase or line in “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” most draws your attention? Why?

• “Crucifixion to the World by the Death of Christ” was the original title Isaac Watts gave his hymn. How do you see that theme running throughout the lyrics?

• Read Galatians 2:20 and 6:14. What do you think Paul meant here? How do these verses challenge you personally?

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 ESV)

• In preparation for Easter, many Christians reflect on their own mortality. Read Psalm 90:12 and Romans 14:8–9. Jay Y. Kim writes that Psalm 90:12 is “a call to reckon with our own limitations and the finitude of this life.” Why is learning to “number our days” an important Christian practice? How can it aid in discipleship?

12 So teach us to number our days

that we may get a heart of wisdom.

(Psalm 90:12)

8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:8-9 ESV)

• Kim says, “This is the gift we receive when we survey the Cross—the gift of an impeccable scale by which to measure. . . our values system, to consider what truly matters and what doesn’t.” How does contemplating the Cross challenge your current priorities?

• Read Romans 5:6–8. Watts’s hymn declares, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” How do you desire to respond to Jesus?

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

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