Posted by: rcottrill | February 13, 2012

Near the Cross

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William Howard Doane (b. Feb. 3, 1832; d. Dec. 23, 1915)

Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby born)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: As sometimes happened with Fanny Crosby’s collaborators, William H. Doane first provided a tune, and Fanny wrote words to suit it–and beautifully. The combined result was published in 1869.

Near the cross. Who was actually near the cross of Christ in a physical and historical sense? We know that Jesus’ mother Mary was there, and the disciple John (Jn. 19:25-27). But most of those who stood nearby were either Roman soldiers, involved in the execution of the Lord and two convicted criminals, or those who were there to mock the Man on the middle cross (Matt. 27:39-44).

But of course Fanny means the term in a metaphorical or figurative sense. She prays that the Lord will keep her near the cross by faith, near the cross in terms of its influence on her life, and in terms of being the central message of her ministry. If there is anything to boast about, let it be that, rather than her own accomplishments. “Bring its scenes before me; / Help me walk from day to day, / With its shadows o’er me” (CH-3).

A similar sentiment is expressed in Elizabeth Clephane’s hymn, Beneath the Cross of Jesus. And the Apostle Paul thought the same way.

“We preach Christ crucified….I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 1:23; 2:2). “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (II Cor. 5:14-15).

CH-1) Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

“Love and mercy found me,” says CH-2. Oh my! That personifying of love and mercy is insightful and touching. Like the parable of Jesus that speaks of the sheep that was lost in the wilderness; it wasn’t the sheep that was the seeker, but the shepherd (Lk. 15:4). There is no natural inclination in the sinful heart to seek after God (Rom. 3:11). It is the Lord Jesus Christ who seeks the lost, the One who identifies Himself in His glory as “the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16; cf. CH-2). He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6, 8). And “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph. 2:4-5).

CH-4) Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

1) In addition to witnessing about salvation through the sacrifice of Christ, what will the practical effects on our daily lives be of keeping near the cross?

2) We know that Paul taught many great truths, as well as things about Christ and His cross. What, then, is the meaning of First Corinthians 2:2?

Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby born)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. I adore the songs of Fanny Crosby and read a biography on her, Her Heart Can See by Edith Blumhofer, just last year. Granted, she wrote MANY songs and I know but only a few, but oh the treasure to the body of Christ are the songs left behind by Fanny Crosby such as this one…

    • Thanks Brian. I agree. There is a warm heart behind the words she wrote. And since she wrote close to nine thousand of them (!), under about 200 pen names (!) we have a lot of exploring to do. God bless.


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