When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

lyrics by isaac watts, music by lowell mason

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Lyrics


When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.


Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.


See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?


His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.


Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.




When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Guitar Chords


G      D  G   Am E7 G  D     G

When I survey the   wondrous cross

             C      G  G  D7 G D

On which the Prince of glory   died;

G      D   G    Am E7  Am    D   G 

My richest gain I      count but loss,

            D     Em   Am  D7 G

And pour contempt on   all my pride.


Scripture References

  • Galatians 6:14 - May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The Story


When Isaac Watts was a young 22-year old man in his hometown Southampton, England, he wrote several hymns for his hometown church. He became a minister at the age of 25. Around this time, his brother Enoch wrote a letter to him urging him to publish his hymns. He wrote, "there is great need of a pen, vigorous and lively as yours, to quicken and revive the dying devotion of the age."


Before Watts' time most hymns were merely recitations of the Psalms and other poetry in the Bible. As still happens in many churches today, many church leaders felt more comfortable just sticking with the old, familiar ways of worship even if it meant that worship became dry and lifeless.


On the other hand, Watts' hymns like Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed, O God Our Help in Ages Past, We're Marching to Zion, and Joy to the World were revolutionary in their day because they were filled with Biblical truths, but they could be sung with the fervor and emotion that should accompany true worship.


When I Survey the Wondrous Cross was included in the first book of hymns that Watts published in 1707, with the original title "Crucifixion to the World, by the Cross of Christ". It also included the 4th verse above which we don't see very often today. The book was an instant and resounding success and to this day many call this hymn one of the finest in the history of the church in England.


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