The Way of the Cross Leads Home

(picture of Jessie H. Brown Pounds)

“Come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mk. 10:21)

INTRO.: A song which encourages us to take up the way of the cross and follow Jesus is “The Way of the Cross Leads Home” (#341 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #546 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Jessie Hunter Brown Pounds, who was born at Hiram, OH, on Aug. 31, 1861, the daughter of Holland Brown who was a pioneer preacher among the Disciples of Christ and his wife Jane Abell Brown, and was educated at home because of frail health. In 1876, at the age of fifteen, she began to write regularly for various religious periodicals of the Christian Church and to submit articles for newspapers in Cleveland, OH. In her early years, an editor commented that some of her poetry would make good hymns, and for more than thirty years, she provided hymn texts for composer and publisher James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936). Most of her hymns were published by the Fillmore Brothers Music Company of Cincinnati, OH. Many of her early efforts are found under her maiden name of Jessie H. Brown.

In 1897, Jessie married John E. Pounds, who was then minister of the Central Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN. Later he became minister of the College Church in Hiram, OH, enabling Jessie to return to her hometown. A staff writer for the Christian Standard, she also published nine books, fifty cantata and operetta librettos, and over 400 hymn texts including “Out Of Self And Into Thee,” “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere,” “Soul, A Savior Thou Art Needing,” “Are You Coming To Jesus Tonight?”, “Will You Not Tell It Today?” “Anywhere With Jesus,” and “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”

“The Way of the Cross Leads Home” was penned in 1906 and the tune (Way of the Cross) was composed by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932). Gabriel later wrote that Mrs. Pound’s intention was to give emphasis to the truth, so constantly held up in the teachings of Christ, that heroic Christianity does not follow the line of least resistance. The hymn first appeared in the 1906 Living Praises No. 2, compiled by Gabriel and W. W. Dowling for the Christian Publishing Co. of St. Louis, MO. After also serving for two years on the editorial staff of The Christian Century, Jessie died on Mar. 3, 1921, at Hiram, OH. The copyright was renewed in 1934 by the Homer A. Rodeheaver Co.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the 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 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; 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 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song exhorts us to follow the way of the cross that it might lead us home to heaven.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that the way of the cross is the only way if we want to get to heaven.
I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.
A. Of course, Jesus speaks of two ways: Matt. 7:13-14
B. However, only one of these ways leads to God and salvation: Jn. 14:6, Acts 4:12
C. Thus, the way of the cross is the only way to the gates of light: Rev. 21:10-13, 21

II. Stanza 2 tells us that the way of the cross is the blood-sprinkled way
I must needs go on in the blood sprinkled way,
The path that the Savior trod,
If I ever climb to the heights sublime,
Where the soul is at home with God.
A. It is the blood of Jesus which provides remission of sins: Matt. 26:28
B. It is the blood of Jesus which provides redemption: Eph. 1:7
C. And it is the blood of Jesus which provides reconciliation and peace with God: Col. 1:19-20

III. Stanza 3 tells us that the way of the cross is to bid farewell to the way of the world
Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it never more;
For the Lord says, Come, and I seek my home,
Where He waits at the open door.
A. To travel the way of the cross, we must not be conformed to the world: Rom. 12:1-2
B. Rather than walking according to the lust of the flesh, we must walk in the Spirit: Gal. 5:16-17
C. This is what Jesus wants us to do when He says, “Come”: Matt. 11:28-30

CONCL.: The chorus completes the thought about the importance of following the way of the cross.
The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.
As we journey in this life toward an eternal home in heaven, it is good to know that “The Way of the Cross Leads Home.”


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