Posted by: rcottrill | September 5, 2014

When I See My Saviour

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Words: Maud Fraser Jackson (dates unknown)
Music: Robert Harkness (b. Mar. 2, 1880; d. May 8, 1961)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Robert Harkness was a well known pianist and gospel song writer in the early part of the twentieth century. He served as pianist in the evangelistic meetings of R. A. Torrey (the preacher) and Charles Alexander (Torrey’s song leader). As I’ve noted elsewhere, my father introduced me to Mr. Harkness when I was a small boy, so he’s one of our hymn writers that I’ve actually met personally.

But of Maud Fraser Jackson we know surprisingly little. I say surprisingly because she wrote many hymns. The Cyber Hymnal lists 141 of them, and Whom, Having Not Seen, I Love is another, not listed there–with music by Charles Gabriel. On the Wordwise Hymns link, I speculate about a Maud Fraser who may be the hymn writer, but it’s only a possibility. At a guess, she likely lived around 1875 to 1945.

The present gospel song was written in 1911. It expresses the author’s overwhelming gratitude and heartfelt worship as she considers the sufferings of Christ.

CH- 1) When I see my Saviour, hanging on Calvary,
Bearing there for sinners bitterest agony.
Gratitude o’erwhelms me, makes mine eyes grow dim,
All my ransomed being captive is to Him.

There were many people near the cross that day, watching the Saviour in His dying hours. Others, of course, are not named or identified. We do not know, for example, whether Simon of Cyrene, who bore Jesus’ cross the last of the way to Calvary (Matt. 27:32; Mk. 15:21), remained to watch what happened. Others were merely passers by, who blasphemed the Lord, mocked Him and went on their way (Matt. 27:39-40; Mk. 15:29-30). But there are still others the gospels mentions particularly.

¤ The disciples. In the garden of Gethsemane, at the time of Christ’s arrest, the disciples “forsook Him and fled” (Matt. 26:56). But at the time of His crucifixion they seem to have watched from a distance (Lk. 23:49). Only John (identified as “the disciple whom He loved”) came near enough to speak with the Lord. This is mentioned by John himself, as it relates to the later care of Mary (Jn. 19:25-27).

¤ The women. Some of these were faithful individuals who sometimes traveled with the Lord, serving in various ways. Several women are mentioned by name, including Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matt. 27:55-56; Mk. 15:40-41; Jn. 19:25).

¤ The Jewish leaders. They were avowed enemies of Jesus, having insisted that Pilate execute Him. Now they mocked and ridiculed Him (Matt. 27:41-43; Mk. 15:31-32). They objected to the sign posted over Jesus’ head, which said, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS,” wanting it to be altered to, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews,’” but Pilate refused (Mk. 15:19, 21).

¤ The Roman soldiers. For them, the three executions were was likely a distasteful job that had to be done. They gambled over Christ’s clothing, unknowingly fulfilling prophecy (Matt. 27:35), then sat down to watch Him die (Matt. 27:36). The soldiers too mocked the Lord (Mk. 15:36-37). But one of them was a centurion (an officer with a hundred men under him). He was very impressed with Christ, and after His death declared, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54; Mk. 15:39), and “a righteous Man” (Mk. 15:47).

¤ The two criminals. The two were crucified with Jesus. At first, they both joined in ridiculing the Saviour (Matt. 27:44). But one finally expressed a desire to be with Christ in His kingdom, and his desire was granted (Mk. 15:39-43).

Reviewing what is said about each of these, and by them, you will see represented such attitudes and feelings as: arrogant hatred and careless indifference, disappointment and doubt, grief and fear, faith and loyalty, love and affection. In some ways it is a kind of microcosm of the various ways people respond to Christ today.

However, missing from the mix is the kind of passionate gratitude expressed in Maud Fraser Jackson’s hymn. His followers loved the Lord, and grieved for what had happened to Him but, at the time, there was no real appreciation of the fact that this was an essential part of God’s sovereign plan. His death seemed to them as the death of hope, and the end of everything. How could they be grateful for such a disaster? That was to come later, after His resurrection (Lk. 24:25-26, 44-48; Acts 2:22-24). Today, we rejoice with this hymn’s author in what the sufferings of Christ accomplished, and are able to praise and thank Him.

CH-2) I can see the blood drops, red ’neath His thorny crown,
From the cruel nail wounds now they are falling down;
Lord, when I would wander from Thy love away,
Let me see those blood drops shed for me that day.

CH-3) “Why hast Thou forsaken?” List to that sad, sad moan!
Oh, His heart was broken, suffering there alone;
Broken then that mortals ne’er need cry in vain
For God’s love and comfort, in the hour of pain.

1) In your view, what is the predominant attitude toward Christ today?

2) What things characterize your own attitude toward Christ?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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