The author writes as a minister of a church where the Psalms are sung in the services, not hymns, yet here he takes Isaac Watts’ ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ as the basis for these chapters.
I happily sit at the feet of Isaac Watts; and even if I am not entirely convinced by his argument that the new covenant necessitates a new hymnody, I am glad to learn from him, and meditate at the grandeur of the vision expressed in his hymns, as well as the power of the devotional element in them.
I invite you to do the same as we take the best-known of all his hymns as the basis for our studies on the cross of Christ. Composed for a communion service, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ was published in the 1707 collection under the title, ‘Crucifixion to the World by the Cross of Christ’. In its original form it had a fourth stanza which is often omitted in current editions.
This stanza reads:
His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads o’er his body on the tree; Then am I dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me.
The four chapters of this short book were prepared for a communion weekend in the APC Church in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in August 2012, another psalm-singing church which received these messages warmly. Indeed, the presence of the Lord was very evident as we gathered together for worship and to remember the Lord’s death.
Iain D. Campbell is currently minister of Point Free Church of Scotland on his native Isle of Lewis in north-west Scotland. He is former Moderator of the Free Church and has published a number of books, including ‘I Am’ also published by EP.