"NEAR THE CROSS"
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross…" (Gal. 6.14)
INTRO.: A song that helps to keep our minds upon the cross in which we can glory is "Near The Cross" (#154 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #46 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Fanny J. Crosby, whose full married name was Frances Jane Crosby VanAlstyne (1820-1915). Blind from six weeks old, she is credited with over 8,000 gospel song texts. One of her collaborators who frequently provided music for her songs was William Howard Doane (1832-1915). In the case of this hymn, the tune was first composed by Doane and given to Miss Crosby to provide the text. It was first published in the 1869 collection Bright Jewels edited by Doane along with William B. Bradbury, William F. Sherwin, and Chester G. Allen.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited 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; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and nearly every other songbook published by brethren, including Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections,and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song helps to focus our minds on what Jesus did for us on the cross.
I. Stanza one says that the cross is the means of our salvation
"Jesus, keep me near the cross; There a precious fountain,
Free to all–a healing stream, Flows from Calvary’s mountain."
A. It was at the cross that a precious fountain for sin was opened: Zech. 13.1
B. From that precious fountain flows a healing stream: Rev. 22.1-2
C. And all of this is possible because Jesus died on Calvary’s mountain: Lk. 23.33
II. Stanza two says that the cross is the expression of God’s divine grace
"Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and Morning Star Sheds its beams around me."
A. It was at the cross that God’s love and mercy found us: Eph. 2.4-9
B. This love and mercy were demonstrated in the "Bright and Morning Star": Rev. 22.16
C. And by grace, the beams from this star enable us to walk in the light: 1 Jn. 1.5-7
III. Stanza three says that the cross is the motivation for us to walk with God
"Near the cross! O Lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day With its shadow o’er me."
A. It was at the cross that the Lamb of God died to take away our sins: Jn. 1.29
B. This Lamb of God wants us to walk with Him: Eph. 4.1-3
C. But to do this, we must keep its shadow over us, remembering the love that Jesus showed for us in His death: Eph. 5.1-2
IV. Stanza four says that the cross is the pointer that directs us to heaven
"Near the cross I’ll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand, Just beyond the river."
A. It was at the cross that Jesus gave us hope by His death: Col. 1.27, 1 Pet. 1.3-5
B. Because of what Jesus did for us, someday we can reach that golden strand after death: Heb. 9.27
C. And we can then be with him just beyond the river and have eternal life in His presence: Matt. 25.46, 1 Jn. 2.25
CONCL.: The chorus says that because of what Jesus did for us at the cross, our glory should be in the cross until our raptured souls will find rest beyond the river.
"In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river."
This is a good song to help prepare our minds for partaking of the Lord’s supper, because it helps to bring the scene of the cross before us. But it is a good song to sing at other times as well, as we continually ask God to keep us "Near The Cross."