Holy Week Hymnody: At the Cross of Jesus


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AT THE CROSS OF JESUS

A remarkable five-part hymn by Edward Monro: “The Story of the Cross”(1864).

[From Anthony Esolen, Touchstone Journal]:

The first part is The Question:

 

See Him in raiment rent,

With His blood dyed:

Women walk sorrowing

By His side.

Heavy that Cross to Him,

Weary the weight:

One who will help Him stands

At the gate.

Multitudes hurrying

Pass on the road:

Simon is sharing with

Him the load.

Who is this traveling

With the curst tree—

This weary prisoner—

Who is He?

The second part is The Answer:

 

Follow to Calvary,

Tread where He trod;

This is the Lord of life—

Son of God.

Is there no loveliness—

You who pass by—

In that lone Figure which

Marks the sky?

You who would love Him, stand,

Gaze at His face;

Tarry awhile in your

Worldly race.

As the swift moments fly

Through the blest week,

Jesus, in penitence,

Let us seek.

 

In the third part of the poem, we address the Lord personally:

 

On the Cross lifted up,

Thy face I scan,

Scarred by that agony—

Son of Man.

Thorns form Thy diadem,

Rough wood Thy throne,

To Thee Thy outstretched arms

Draw Thine own.

Nails hold Thy hands and feet,

While on Thy breast

Sinketh Thy bleeding head

Sore opprest.

Loud is Thy bitter cry,

Rending the night,

As to Thy darkened eyes

Fails the light.

Shadows of midnight fall,

Though it is day;

Friends and disciples stand

Far away.

Loud scoffs the dying thief,

Mocking Thy woe;

Can this my Savior be

Brought so low?

Yes, see the title clear,

Written above,

‘Jesus of Nazareth’—

Name of love!

What, O my Savior dear,

What didst Thou see,

That made Thee suffer and

Die for me?

In the fourth part the Lord responds:

 

Child of my grief and pain!

From realms above,

I came to lead thee to

Life and love.

For thee my blood I shed,

For thee I died;

Safe in thy faithfulness

Now abide.

I saw thee wandering,

Weak and at strife;

I am the Way for thee,

Truth and Life.

Follow my path of pain,

Tread where I trod:

This is the way of peace

Up to God.

So in the final part of the poem, the speaker replies to Jesus with eager love:

 

O I will follow Thee,

Star of my soul!

Through the great dark I press

To the goal.

Yea, let me know Thy grief,

Carry Thy cross,

Share in Thy sacrifice,

Gain Thy loss.

Daily I’ll prove my love

Through joy and woe;

Where Thy hands point the way,

There I go.

Lead me on year by year,

Safe to the end,

Jesus, my Lord, my Life,

King and Friend.

esolenanthony

Anthony Esolen is Professor of English at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and the author of The Ironies of Faith (ISI Books), The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regency), and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books).  He has also translated Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (Johns Hopkins Press) and Dante’s The Divine Comedy (Random House). He is a senior editor of Touchstone Journal.

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2 Comments

Filed under Holy Week, Hymns, Lent, Palm Sunday, Passiontide, theology and doxology

2 responses to “Holy Week Hymnody: At the Cross of Jesus

  1. Rick Stewart

    I would like to use this next week at our church’s Wed night worship when I have been asked to provide “Reflections on the Cross.” It is so beautiful!!

  2. Stephen and & I were also awe-struck by the beauty, depth, richness, and pathos of the hymn. I will send you the link so you can read the entire commentary, by Anthony Esolen. Thanks for your comment!

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