“The Cross Is Not Greater”

"…We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8.38)

     INTRO.: A song which tells us to look to the grace of Jesus Christ for help to bear the cross that we might be more than conquerors is "The Cross Is Not Greater" (#324 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Ballington Booth, who was born at Brighouse in Yorkshire, England, on July 28, 1857, the second child of William and Catherine Mumford Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, while his father was still a minister with the Methodist New Connexion. The Booth children grew up in a home where religion was the dominating interest. Ballington and his older brother Bramwell would often play games where they would preach to a congregation consisting of their younger brother and sisters with their dolls. The Booths did not believe in exposing their children to the evils of the world by sending them to school, so their mother directed their early education at home with the aid of governesses and tutors.

     Ballington was eight years old when his father began the Salvation Army and, like the other Booth children, grew up with the Army. When it was time for the boys to procede with their formal education, Ballington and his younger brother Herbert were sent to a boarding school in Bristol. After graduating, Ballington, with the rank of captain, was given a command in Manchester with children’s work. In 1884, at the age of 23, he became a colonel and was placed in charge of the first Training Home for men officers, which was at Congress Hall in Lower Clapton, London, and after three years he became co-commander of Salvation Army forces in Australia with headquarters in Melbourne, where he served for two years. Upon returning to England, by way of Canada and the United States, he married Maude E. Charlesworth, and was almost immediately dispatched to command the Salvation Army in the United States. It was in 1892 that he produced this hymn for The Soldier Soloist, a Salvation Army hymnbook.

     However, in 1896, when his father recalled him to England due to fears that Ballington and his family were becoming too "Americanized," the younger Booth refused to return, broke with his father, and organized a new group, The Volunteers of America, which he led for forty-four years until his death on Oct. 5, 1940, at Blue Point, Long Island, New York, at the age of 83. Two of his hymns, this one and "Over and Over," were played at his funeral service. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "The Cross Is Not Greater" appeared in the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard, as well as Sacred Selections.

     The song encourages us to find grace that we might bear the cross for Christ.

I. Stanza 1 talks about bearing the cross
"The cross that He gave may be heavy, But it ne’er outweighs His grace;
The storm that I fear may surround me, But it ne’er excludes His face."
 A. Jesus says that to be His disciple, we must take up the cross and follow Him: Matt. 16.24
 B. However, it never outweighs His grace because He has promised that no trial will be beyond our ability to bear but we can come before His throne to find grace to help in time of need: 1 Cor. 10.13, Heb. 4.14-16
 C. And the storm never excludes His face if we have our anchor cast within the veil: Heb. 6.18-19

II. Stanza 2 talks about drinking the cup
"The thorns in my path are not sharper Than composed His crown for me;
The cup that I drink not more bitter Than He drank in Gethsemane."
 A. The thorns in our path cannot be sharper than those in the crown that was placed on Christ before His crucifixion: Matt. 27.27-31
 B. With such thorns in our way, we shall be called upon to drink a cup of sorrow and woe in this life: Matt. 20.22-23
 C. However, our cup will not be more bitter than the one that He spoke of in Gethsemane: Matt. 26.29

III. Stanza 3 talks about raising the low
"The light of His love shineth brighter, As it falls on paths of woe;
The toil of my work groweth lighter, as I stoop to raise the low."
 A. The Christian can know for certainty that the light of Christ’s love shines on Him: Eph. 5.14
 B. However, we shall find that it always shines brighter when we walk in paths of woe and darkness: 2 Cor. 4.6
 C. We shall also find that the toil of our work will seem light when we stoop to raise the low and help others: 1 Thess. 5.14

IV. Stanza 4 talks about fulfilling His will
"His will I have joy in fulfilling, As I’m walking in His sight;
My all to the blood I am bringing: It alone can keep me right."
 A. It should be our desire to do the will of our Lord: Heb. 13.21
 B. We fulfil His will as we are walking in the light: 1 Jn. 1.5-7
 C. Doing His will and walking in the light requires that we bring our all to His blood because it alone can provide forgiveness of sins and keep us right: Matt. 26.28, 1 Jn. 1.9

     CONCL.: The chorus reminds those who bear the cross that they can conquer every foe.
"The cross is not greater than His grace, The storm cannot hide His blessed face;
I am satisfied to know that with Jesus here below, I can conquer every foe."
Just as Jesus Himself bore His cross, at least part of the way, to Calvary, so we must bear our own cross or load in life consisting of whatever trials and tribulations come our way. However, it is of great comfort to know that He will help us bear our cross and that compared to His own sacrifice, "The Cross Is Not Greater."


2 thoughts on ““The Cross Is Not Greater”

  1. Today is the anniversary of the birth of Ballington Booth in 1857. Thanks for including his hymn. I may have missed it in your commentary, but I don't think you referenced II Cor. 9:8, which is a wonderful promise regarding the sufficiency of the grace of God.

    A couple of suggestions for your site. It would be helpful to have a search button at the top of the sidebar, so that readers could more easily find a particular hymn. Also, it would be good to list your resources somewhere. You do mention hymnals and song books where a particular hymn is found. But what books do you use for hymn history. (This is something I need to do with my own site. Add a page that lists the many dozens of books in my library on the subject.)

    Anyway, well done. Thanks for the site.

  2. "A couple of suggestions for your site. It would be helpful to have a search button at the top of the sidebar, so that readers could more easily find a particular hymn. Also, it would be good to list your resources somewhere. You do mention hymnals and song books where a particular hymn is found. But what books do you use for hymn history."
    Unfortunately, this is not "my own site." I am simply using a blog service provided by others and either I don't have control over what features are provided or else I am too technologically illiterate to use them, which is why I do not have a search button at the top of the sidebar nor a separate page listing resources. Sorry, but this is the best I can do right now.


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