by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
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.
Isaac Watts, author of this hymn, and Lowell Mason, composer of the tune, Hamburg, never met in this life. Nevertheless, the diminutive, prolific, 17th-century English preacher-poet, Watts, and the 19th-century American banker turned composer and music educator, Mason, produced one of the most powerful and poignant hymns ever written.