Posted by: rcottrill | March 10, 2014

Hallelujah for the Cross

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3) Topical Articles are opinion pieces on many aspects sacred music.

Words: Horatius Bonar (b. Dec. 19, 1808; d. July 31, 1889)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (James McGranahan)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This great gospel song, praising God for the efficacy of the finished work of Christ, was written in 1875. James McGranahan added his rousing tune seven years later.

To the grace of God that brought us salvation, we cry “Hallelujah!”

“After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honour and power belong to the Lord our God!’” (Rev. 19:1).

“Alleluia” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah. The latter is a compound expression, made up of the Hebrew words halal (meaning to glory in, or boast of), and Yah (a shortened form of Yahweh, or Jehovah). Thus “Hallelujah!” repeated thirty times in this hymn (counting the refrains) means “Praise the Lord!”

During the nineteenth century, the winds of skepticism and unbelief were blowing. The Bible was being attacked by liberal scholars, and schools of theology were turning out pastors who no longer stood for the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures (II Tim. 3:16), or the fundamentals of the apostolic faith (cf. Jude 1:3).

“Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18).

The church of Jesus Christ needed those who would proclaim the Word with clarity and power, and God raised up men who did just that. There might be spiritual drift and apostasy on the part of some, but God’s truth had not changed. The gospel of grace, and the saving power of the cross were needed as much as ever.

CH-1) The cross, it standeth fast–
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
Defying every blast–
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
The winds of hell have blown,
The world its hate hath shown,
Yet it is not overthrown–
Hallelujah for the cross!

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah for the cross;
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
It shall never suffer loss!

Dr. Horatius Bonar was an evangelical pastor in Scotland, and a great hymn writer. (I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say is another of his hundreds of songs.) In the present one he exalts the cross of Christ. “It is the old cross still,”where by the grace of God “Christ, the blessed Son” atoned for our sins (CH-2).

“[Christ] humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). “[He] made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20). “God forbid that I should boast [the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew halal, to glory in] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

CH-2) It is the old cross still–
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
Its triumph let us tell–
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
The grace of God here shone
Through Christ, the blessèd Son,
Who did for sin atone–
Hallelujah for the cross!

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:5-6).

CH-3) ’Twas here the debt was paid–
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
Our sins on Jesus laid–
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
So ‘round the cross we sing
Of Christ, our Offering,
Of Christ, our living King–
Hallelujah for the cross!

Questions:
1) Why has the cross been turned for many into a mere decorative symbol and little else?

2) What are your favourite hymns about the cross?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (James McGranahan)
The Cyber Hymnal


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