Gaither Homecoming: Stories Behind Popular Hymns, Day 10

Today’s reading is drawn from John 3:16.

The Old Rugged Cross

During a trying time in his faith, George Bennard determined to set his eyes upon Scripture and the Cross for clarity and peace. “The Old Rugged Cross” resulted from his resolve. Through the ministry of the Salvation Army, Bennard’s heart was turned to the Lord at a young age, and he quickly felt called to evangelism. He could not, however, heed the call to ministry just yet. When Bennard was sixteen, his father died, and Bennard had responsibilities with his family. Years later, he did get the opportunity and served faithfully as an evangelist with the Salvation Army and the Methodist Episcopal church. As happens with many ministers of the gospel, Bennard experienced some difficulty which led him to stringently focus his mind upon the Cross. When considering the sufferings in his own life and those of Christ on the Cross, Bennard later remembered, “I was praying for a full understanding of the Cross . . . I read and studied and prayed . . . The Cross of Christ became more than a symbol . . . It was like seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption. While watching this scene with my mind’s eye, the theme of the song came to me, and with it the melody.” Bennard came to understand that it is only through God’s love that a hill of execution could become a place of hope, and a bloody wooden cross beam “a wondrous beauty.”

Bible Gateway

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