OLD RUGGED CROSS

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • OLD RUGGED CROSS
    “The Old Rugged Cross” is a popular Christian song written in 1912 by evangelist and
    song-leader George Bennard. George Bennard, was a native of Youngstown, Ohio but
    was reared in Iowa. After his conversion in a Salvation Army meeting, he and his wife
    became brigade leaders before leaving the organization for the Methodist Church. As a
    Methodist evangelist, Bennard wrote the first verse of the gospel song, “The Old Rugged
    Cross” in Albion, Michigan, in the fall of 1912. Charles H. Gabriel, a well-known gospel-
    song composer helped Bennard with the harmonies. The completed version was first
    performed on June 7th, 1913, by a choir of five in Pokagon Michigan. Published in 1915,
    the song was popularized during Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns by two members
    of his campaign staff, Homer Rodeheaver (who bought rights to the song for $500) and
    Virginia Asher, who were perhaps also the first to record it in 1921. “The Old Rugged
    Cross” uses a sentimental popular song form with a verse/chorus pattern in 3/4 time, and
    it speaks of the writer’s Christian experience rather than his adoration of God. Bennard
    retired to Reed City, Michigan, and the town maintains a museum dedicated to his life
    and ministry.
    On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suffering 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 old 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.
    O 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.
    So I’ll cherish the old 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.
    In that 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.
    So I’ll cherish the old 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.
    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.
    So I’ll cherish the old 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