Scripture Verse

There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men. 1 Timothy 2:5–6

Introduction

portrait
Isaac Watts
1674–1748

Words: Is­aac Watts, Hymns and Spi­ri­tu­al Songs 1707–09, Book 2, num­ber 9. God­ly sor­row aris­ing from the suf­fer­ings of Christ. Ralph E. Hud­son wrote the re­frain in 1885.

Music: Mar­tyr­dom Hugh Wil­son, 1800 (🔊 pdf nwc) (does not use the re­frain).

Alternate Tunes:

  • Abney (Hull) Asa Hull (1828–1907) (🔊 pdf nwc)
  • Hudson Ralph E. Hud­son, Songs of Peace, Love and Joy (Al­li­ance Ohio: 1885) (🔊 pdf nwc) (us­es re­frain be­low). It is with this tune that the hymn is known as At the Cross.
  • Liberty Hall in Wy­eth’s Re­po­si­to­ry of Sac­red Mu­sic, by John Wy­eth, 1810 (🔊 pdf nwc)
illustration
Crucifixion
Simon Vouet
1590–1649

Background

[In] the au­tumn of 1850…re­viv­al meet­ings were be­ing held in the Thir­ti­eth Street Me­tho­dist Church. Some of us went down ev­ery ev­en­ing; and, on two oc­ca­sions, I sought peace at the atlar [sic], but did not find the joy I craved, un­til one ev­en­ing, No­vem­ber 20, 1850, it seemed to me that the light must in­deed come then or ne­ver; and so I arose and went to the al­tar alone. Af­ter a pray­er was of­fered, they be­gan to sing the grand old con­se­cr­ation hymn,

Alas, and did my Sav­iour bleed, and did my So­ve­reign die?

And when they reached the third line of the fourth stan­za,

Here Lord, I give my­self away,

My very soul was flood­ed with a ce­les­tial light. I sprang to my feet, shout­ing hal­le­lu­jah, and then for the first time I real­ized that I had been try­ing to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the oth­er.

Crosby, p. 24

Lyrics

Alas! and did my Sav­ior bleed
And did my So­ve­reign die?
Would He de­vote that sac­red head
For such a worm as I?

Refrain

At the cross, at the cross,
Where I first saw the light,
And the bur­den of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I re­ceived my sight,
And now I am hap­py all the day!

Thy bo­dy slain, sweet Je­sus, Thine,
And bathed in its own blood,
While all ex­posed to wrath di­vine,
The glo­ri­ous Suf­fer­er stood!

Refrain

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned up­on the tree?
Amazing pi­ty! grace un­known!
And love be­yond de­gree!

Refrain

Well might the sun in dark­ness hide
And shut his glo­ries in,
When Christ, the migh­ty Mak­er died,
For man the crea­ture’s sin.

Refrain

Thus might I hide my blush­ing face
While His dear cross ap­pears,
Dissolve my heart in thank­ful­ness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

Refrain

But drops of grief can ne’er re­pay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Refrain