The Wondrous Cross

In my last post, I wrote about John Stott, and his belief in the doctrine of the atonement as central to our Christian faith.  Some theologians today wish to downplay Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, even going so far as to call it “divine child abuse.”  (this reveals an improper understanding of the trinity, but that’s for another day).  Seems like many hymnists over the years disagree with this viewpoint, because there is an abundance of Christian songs which celebrate the cross.

Isaac Watts wrote one of them in 1707 — When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.  Watts is known as the father of English hymnody.  He broke tradition by publishing a book of hymns.  Most English churches at that time used only the Old Testament Psalms in public worship, but Watts believed that Christians should be able to celebrate all the aspects of the gospel proclaimed in the New Testament as well.  Below is a quote from the preface of Hymns and Spiritual Songs, in which he defends his view:

“Many Ministers and many private Christians have long groaned under this Inconvenience, and have wished rather than attempted a Reformation: At their importunate and repeated Requests I have for some Years past devoted many Hours of leisure to this Service. Far be it from my Thoughts to lay aside the Psalms of David in public Worship; few can pretend so great a Value for them as my self . . . But it must be acknowledged still, that there are a thousand Lines in it which were not made for a Saint in our Day, to assume as his own; There are also many deficiencies of Light and Glory which our Lord Jesus and his Apostles have supplied in the Writings of the New Testament; and with this Advantage I have composed these spiritual Songs which are now presented to the World.”

And here is his famous hymn about the wondrous cross:

For more hymns by Isaac Watts:

O God Our Help

Joy to the World


O God Our Help

When Martha suggested our theme for this month, I immediately thought of this hymn.  “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” was written by Isaac Watts is a paraphrase of Psalm 90.  The superscription calls it a prayer of Moses.  No matter how uncertain our circumstances, our faith can remain firm because God is with us.

For another hymn by Isaac Watts see:

Joy to the World

Joy to the World

We’re well into advent, and I’ve been thinking about how the subject of many traditional carols involves one or more fruits of the spirit.  The first one to come to my mind is “Joy to the World.”  This hymn was written by Isaac Watts, a prolific song writer, known as “the father of English hymnody.”  You may notice it doesn’t mention the baby Jesus, the manger scene, shepherds or angels.  That’s because Watts did not write it as a Christmas song.  It is actually based loosely on Psalm 98:

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;  break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!

With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

So you can sing this hymn not just at Christmas, but all year long.  I’m posting the lyrics below.  Enjoy!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Read more: Christmas Carols – Joy To The World Lyrics | MetroLyrics