"JESUS, I MY CROSS HAVE TAKEN"
Wayne S. Walker
"...Lo, we have left all and followed Thee" (Mk. 10.28)
INTRO.: A hymn which expresses the attitude indicated by the
apostle Peter to Christ in the text cited above is "Jesus, I My Cross
Have Taken." The text was written by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847). It
first appeared in his 1824 "Sacred Poetry" and was signed only "G." A
slightly altered version appeared in Lyte's 1833 "Poems, Chiefly
Religious," in which Lyte claimed authorship. Lyte is best-known for his
hymn, "Abide With Me."
The tune (Ellesdie; also Disciple, Ocean, The Cross, Violet, or
Vondeventer) first appeared in "The Christian Lyre" Vol. 11, published in
1831 by Joshua Leavitt (19th c.). It is often attributed to Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). However, no such melody has ever been found
among his known works. It is possible that the arrangement in Leavitt's
book was made by Lowell Mason (1792-1872). The modern harmonization was
done by Hubert Platt Main (1839-1925). It first appeared in the 1873
"Winnowed Hymns" of C. C. McCabe and D. T. MacFarlan.
The hymn was found in the 1923 "Choice Gospel Hymns" edited by T. B.
Mosely and published by the Gospel Advocate Co., but was not included in
any of their later books. Three stanzas were used with the Ellesdie tune
and two others with another tune in the 1921 "Great Songs of the Church"
No. 1, and this practice was continued in the 1937 "Great Songs of the
Church No. 2," both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. It was also used in the
1963 "Abiding Hymns" edited by R. C. Welch. Today, it can be found in
the 1986 "Great Songs Revised" edited by F. M. McCann, and the 1992
"Praise for the Lord" edited by John P. Wiegand.
The song identifies some things that are necessary to follow Jesus.
I. Stanza 1 talks about taking up the cross
"Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, All I've sought and hoped and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own."
A. To follow Jesus requires that we take up the cross, i.e., be willing
to bear any burden that it takes to be His disciple: Mt. 16.24
B. However, this means that sometimes we will have to be "destitute,
despised, forsaken," because all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
will suffer persecution: 2 Tim. 3.12; because according to modern English
grammar rules this would be considered a dangling participle, most of our
books have changed it to "I am poor, despised, forsaken."
C. Yet, in spite of this, we can still have riches in Christ because
God and heaven are still available to us: Rom. 11.33
II. Stanza 2 talks about renouncing the world
"Let the world despise and leave me, They have (It has) left my Savior
Human hearts and looks deceive me, Thou art not, like man, untrue.
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends may shun me; Show Thy face, and all is
A. The world here is that realm which has rejected the Savior and thus
hates His followers: Jn. 15.18-21
B. However, in contrast to human hearts and looks that deceive, God is
not untrue but faithful to His people: 1 Cor. 10.13
C. Therefore, as we turn from this world, we can trust the God of
wisdom, love, and might, to show His face to us, in the sense of shining
His approval on us: 1 Pet. 3.12
III. Stanza 3 talks about staying our hearts on God
"Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee 'Abba, Father;' I have stayed my heart on Thee;
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, All must work for good to me."
A. As disciples of Christ, we can expect that earthly fame and treasure
will leave us, and disaster, scorn, and pain will come, as it did to the
apostles: 2 Cor. 11.22-28
B. However, in Christ we can count earthly loss as gain: Phil. 3.7-10
C. And because we can call God "Abba, Father," we can know that all
things will work out for our good: Rom. 8.15, 28
IV. Stanza 4 talks about fleeing to the Lord for safety
"Man may trouble and distress me, 'Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me, Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
O 'tis not in grief to harm me; While Thy love is left to me;
O 'twere not in joy to charm me Were that joy unmixed with Thee."
A. If we have the right attitude toward our troubles, they will simply
bring us closer to the Lord: Jas. 1.2-4, 4.8
B. Part of that attitude is remembering that the harder life's trials
here, the sweeter the rest when life is over: Rev. 14.13
C. And with this attitude, neither the griefs of life can harm us nor
the joys of this world charm us, but we should always turn to the Lord
for safety: Heb. 6.18-20
V. Stanza 5 talks about finding joy in serving Christ
"Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o'er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station, Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee, What a Father's smile is thine,
What a Savior died to win thee; Child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?"
A. With the salvation what we have in Christ, we can cast out fear from
our lives: 1 Jn. 4.18 ("Great Songs" began this stanza, "Know, my soul,
thy full salvation," probably because these last two stanzas were used as
a separate hymn and the editor needed something beginning with "Know" for
his alphabetical arrangement of hymns)
B. And having cast out fear from our lives, we can live in true joy:
C. This joy, which is the result of the Spirit's dwelling in us, the
Father's smile, and the Savior's death for our sins, will certainly keep
us from repining: Rev. 1.4-6
VI. Stanza 6 talks about looking to heaven
"Haste, then, on from grace to glory, Armed by faith and winged by
Heaven's eternal day's before thee, God's own hand shall guide thee
Soon shall close the earthly mission, Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope soon change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise."
A. The life that we live here in the midst of sorrow and suffering must
be by faith: 2 Cor. 5.7
B. This faith looks forward to heaven's eternal day: 1 Pet. 1.3-5
C. With such hope in our hearts, the time will pass swiftly here and we
can go to be with the Lord: Phil. 1.23
CONCL.: Because this hymn has not been in the most popular books
used among churches of Christ in the mid to late 1900's, I do not believe
that I have ever sung it. In fact, my only time hearing it, or at least
the most memorable one, was in one of the old "Ma and Pa Kettle" movies
where the Kettles were in a church service, Ma was playing the organ, and
the congregation was singing this hymn. Aside from the use of
instrumentla music, this hymn deserves to be better known and used among
us. Perhaps we live in an age where there are just too much comfort and
ease so that we do not see the need to sacrifice for Christ and thus
become too attached to the things of this world. But to please God here
and receive eternal life, we need to be able to say, "Jesus, I My Cross