The Old Rugged Cross

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14, NKJV.

bennard.jpgThis Scripture passage inspired George Bennard to pen the classic hymn, The Old Rugged Cross in 1913. Bennard traveled as a Salvation Army preacher. He visited many churches, and almost all of them incorporated the symbol of the Cross. Many of those crosses were beautiful works of art, overlaid with gold. Some were even encrusted with jewels.

Bennard was struck by the contrast between the real cross on which Jesus died and these ornate, smooth, gilded crosses. His title, the Old Rugged Cross, is a direct challenge to those who wanted to clean up Calvary.

It is one of the top ten most sung hymns in American history. And one that I cannot sing without getting choked up.


Pietro da Cortona
Italian, about 1661

God, on this Good Friday, thank you for the Cross. I worship you for the gift of your precious Son. Thank you for the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. No human mind can penetrate the mystery of those awful moments when your Son cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!” And we shall never cease to marvel at the best words ever spoken: IT IS FINISHED! Thank you for salvation, full and free. For forgiving me. Justifying me. Adopting me. Accepting me. Using me. And guaranteeing heaven to me. Thank you for a FINISHED salvation. We praise you for the heights of your holiness, and for the depths of your love. We’ll never get tired of telling the story: that “the Dearest and Best for a world of lost sinners was slain.” There is no God like you, and there is no Savior like Jesus. Amen.


On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down’
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where his glory forever I’ll share.