The Wondrous Cross (3)

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!”
is all their breath,
And for His death
they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
Themselves displease,
and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He
to suffering goes,
That He His foes
from thence might free.

In life no house, no home,
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb,
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heav’n was his home;
But mine the tomb
Wherein he lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
in Whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.

—Samuel Crossman (1664)

“Easter”

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined(1) thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts(2) vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.

(1) calcined. reduced to lime or other substance. (Oxford English Dictionary.) In this case reduced to our lowest commonest denominator, dust, of which we all are made.
(2) three parts. Most chords have only 3 different notes which are repeated, multiplied, at different octaves in different voices or instruments.

—George Herbert, from The Temple (1633)

(also set to music by Ralph Vaughan WIlliams as the first two of his Five Mystical Songs)

Our Mighty Substitute

But we must not be content with a vague general belief that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious. We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.

We may follow him all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty substitute, our representative, our head, our surety, our proxy—the divine friend who undertook to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of His sufferings, to purchase our redemption.

Was He flogged? It was done so that “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Was He condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.

Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.

Washe stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.

Was He mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.

Was He reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.

Was He declared unable to save himself? It was done so that He might be able to save others to the uttermost.

Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.

—J. C. Ryle, “The Sufferings of Christ” in Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross: Experiencing The Passion and Power of Easter