(gravestone of Leroy Furr and her husband Edgar)
SUFFERED AT THE CROSS
“Foreasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind…” (1 Pet. 4:1)
INTRO.: A hymn which helps our minds to remember how Christ suffered for us in the flesh is “Suffered at the Cross.” The text was written by Leroy Belle Smith Furr, who was born on Dec. 31, 1911, at Rives in Obion County, Tennessee, the daughter of Joel Lancaster Smith (1887–1975) and Elizabeth B. Smith (1893–1981). She married Edgar Everett “Ed” Furr (1906–1998), and they had two sons, Joe Ed Furr (1939-2019) and John Raymond “Tinker” Furr (1943–2012). In 1944 Edgar Furr was a gospel preacher in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He worked with the Church of Christ in Brownsville and also conducted many gospel meetings for churches in Texas. During World War Two, his travels among churches helped him to discover a shortage of song leaders created by the circumstances of the war. He knew that when Christian men came home from war many of them would not be prepared to become effective song leaders. In the same year Austin Taylor (1881-1973), a well-known song writer, singing school teacher, and hymnal editor, was living in Uvalde, Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio. During the war years he also traveled among churches teaching congregational singing schools and leading singing for evangelistic meetings. He too became aware of the need to provide song leadership training among churches.
Edgar Furr met Austin Taylor, and the two of them began to share their insights into the need for song leadership training. For the next two years those men discussed ideas about how they might do something to help meet the need for song leaders. In 1946 Furr and Taylor formed a partnership to establish a summer singing school. The school was named the “Texas Normal Singing School.” It was located in Sabinal, Texas, a small town twenty miles east of Uvalde on the highway to San Antonio and the former site of Sabinal Christian College which was established in 1907, operated for ten years, and then closed its doors in 1917. Edgar Furr was the school’s administrator and marketing agent. Austin Taylor and Holland L. Boring, Sr. were the first teachers in the school. Holland Boring, Jr. and Don Boring became teachers later. This faculty of teachers was the primary instructors for the first twenty years of the school’s existence. “Suffered at the Cross” was copyrighted in 1953 by the Firm Foundation Publishing House of Austin, TX, and was first published that year in their book The Majestic Hymnal compiled by G. H. P. Showalter and Austin Taylor. Taylor composed the tune. After 1966 the Boring family decided to establish summer singing schools in other communities, so the faculty of the singing school experienced major changes.
Joe Ed Furr, John Furr, James Tackett, and Richard McPherson joined the faculty. Taylor’s passing resulted in some major changes in the school. A new song writing training program was added to the school. A number of new training classes were offered including History of Church Music, Advanced Worship Planning, and an extensive practice teacher’s program was offered to train singing school teachers. In 1974 the school added more teachers such as Ken Spoor, Walter Chaney, and Stanley Stevens. The largest attendance the school was privileged to have occurred between the years of 1976 to 1979. By the year of 1980, the enrollment of the school began to decline, and in 1984 the school decided to consider the need to relocate. In 1985 Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, invited the singing school to move to its campus and become a part of its summer activities. Then in 1988 Abilene Christian University invited the singing school to move to its campus. The College of Biblical Studies opened its doors to the school. Leroy Furr, who was fully involved in the affairs of the Texas Normal Singing School for much of her life, died on Mar. 11, 2000, at the age of 88, in Bexar County, Texas, and was buried at Sabinal Cemetery in Sabinal, Uvalde County, Texas.
“Suffered at the Cross” focuses our minds on the scene of Jesus’s death and what it should mean to us.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the suffering of Jesus
Have you suffered at the cross of Jesus?
Have you viewed His dying majesty?
Have you counted all as loss for the glory of His cross?
Have you seen His precious agony?
- Christ suffered on the cross for us: 1 Pet. 3:18
- We cannot literally view His agony and death, but we can see them through our mind’s eye as we read about them in Scripture: Matt. 27:45-50
- This should motivate us to count all as loss for Him: Phil. 3:8
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the pain of Jesus
Have you seen them mock our Lord and Savior
As they taunted Him in misery?
Have you felt the sting of pain as they tortured Him again
As He suffered there for you and me?
- Herod and his men mocked Jesus: Lk. 23:6-11
- Then Pilate’s soldiers mocked again as they tortured Him: Matt. 27:27-31
- Jesus endured all of this for us: Isa. 53:3-6
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the love of Jesus
Have you felt your sins at Calvary’s mountain?
Did you want to start your life anew?
Did you hear His dying cry pierce the overhanging sky,
“Lord, forgive, they know not what they do.”
- All responsible human beings have sinned: Rom. 3:23
- But Christ’s death makes it possible for us to start life anew: 2 Cor. 5:14-17
- His dying cry on the cross shows His willingness to forgive: Lk. 23:34
IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes the salvation of Jesus
Were you buried with our Lord and Master?
Did you rise to walk your life anew?
In the water’s crystal grave, did you wash your sins away?
Have you strove to keep your promise true?
- Just as Jesus died and was buried and then raised up, so we must die to sin and be buried in baptism so that we can rise to walk in newness of life: Rom. 6:3-4
- In the water’s crystal grave our sins are washed away: Acts 22:16
- Then we must keep our promise true by being faithful until death: Rev. 2:10
CONCL.: This song would be useful in helping to prepare our minds for partaking of the Lord’s supper in which we show forth the Lord’s death until He comes. It could also be used as a song of invitation as it asks if we have obeyed the gospel and been saved. Not only when we assemble on the first day of the week but every day we need to remember that Jesus “Suffered at the Cross.”