“Kneel at the Cross”

"Wherefore He is able also to save them…seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7.25).

     INTRO.: A song that encourages us to come to the cross of Jesus who is the one who makes intercession for us is "Kneel At The Cross" (#331 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #49 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Charles Earnest Moody who was born on Oct. 8, 1891, near Tilton, GA, and as a child moved with his family to nearby Tunnel Hill where he lived until age 36 and served as music director for the local Methodist Church after having studied music with A. J. Simms of Dalton, GA, and the Southern Development Normal in Ashville, NC. Also, while working as a bookkeeper in a local store, he taught singing schools and led singing at many revivals in various local churches. Most older books say that the song was based on a "theme suggested by Rev. Sam Hair" who was preaching in a meeting at the New Hope Baptist Church in town and copyrighted by Moody and Sebren in 1924.

     However, newer books say that it was copyrighted in 1938 and then renewed in 1966 by the Stamps-Baxter Music Co. The 1938 date could be when the copyright was transferred to the Stamps-Baxter Co. However, Stamps-Baxter was notorious for taking songs written by others, giving their own arrangement to them, and then copyrighting them as their own.  Moody moved to Calhoun, GA, in 1927, where he sang professionally with the Georgia Yellow Hammers for Victor Records and married Fannie Brownlee. They had three children, and to support his family he had to leave the singing group and teach public school. From 1938 to 1940, the Moodys lived in Tunnel Hill again where ran a gas station. Returning to Calhoun, he continued teaching public school and doing bookkeeping. He died in 1977.

     Among hymnbooks published by by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1938 Spiritual Melodies edited by T. S. Teddlie; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; and the 1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by T. S. Cobb; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch, and the 1963 Christian Hymnal by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V.  E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord by John P. Wiegand; as well as Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

     The song calls upon people to submit to Jesus, symbolized as "kneeling at the cross."

I. According to stanza 1, kneeling at the cross means leaving our cares with Christ
"Kneel at the cross, Christ will meet you there, Come while He waits for you;
Lift up your voice, Leave with Him your care, And begin life anew."
 A. The cross is figuratively pictured as the place where Christ will meet us because it was on the cross that He died as an atonement for our sins: Phil. 2.8
 B. When we thus come to the cross by submitting to Christ, we can leave all our cares with Him: 1 Pet. 5.7
 C. Having left all our cares, including our sins, with Christ at the cross, we can begin life anew: Rom. 6.3-4

II. According to stanza 2, kneeling at the cross means anchoring our souls to Christ
"Kneel at the cross, There is room for all Who would His glory share;
Bliss there awaits, Harm can ne’er befall Those who are anchored there."
 A. There is room for all at the cross because God so loved the whole world that He gave His only begotten Son to taste death for everyone: Jn. 3.16, Heb. 2.7
 B. If people come to the cross, spiritual "harm can ne’er befall" because Christ has promised that "they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand": Jn. 10.27-28
 C. However, in order to receive the benefits of this promise, we must anchor our souls to Christ by faithfully following Him in all things: Heb. 6.19-20, Rev. 2.10

III. According to stanza 3, kneeling at the cross means giving all idols up
"Kneel at the cross, Give your idols up, Look unto realms above;
Turn not again To life’s sparkling cup; Trust always in His love."
 A. Anything that we would allow to come between us and Christ is an idol, and we must keep ourselves from all such things: 1 Jn. 5.21
 B. Rather than looking to the idols of this life, we should look unto realms above: Col. 3.1-3
 C. This will help us not to turn again to life’s sparkling cup but to trust always in His love: Heb. 10.36-39

     CONCL.: The chorus continues the appeal for all who need the Lord in any way:
"Kneel at the cross, Leave every care;
Kneel at the cross, Jesus will meet you there."
Ellis J. Crum in Sacred Selections identified this song as "Christian’s Admonition" and even changed stanza 1, line 3 to read, "He intercedes for you," apparently thinking that the concept of kneeling at the cross can only apply to Christians going to God in prayer and thus placing it in "Prayer Songs" (#’s 23-65). However, Shepard and Stevens in Hymns for Worship, though following the same change that Crum made, place it in "Invitation Songs" (#’s 263-349). The fact is that "kneeling at the cross" can be thought of as a generic symbol for submitting oneself completely to the Lord. One way that those of us who are Christians do so is by our prayers. Those who are not Christians do so by obeying the gospel of Christ. Hence, it seems to me that the song can fit either category. The important point is that to receive the blessings and favor of the Lord, we must do whatever it takes to submit ourselves to His will and "Kneel At The Cross."


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