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When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

April 20, 2019

Roy Salmond


New York Times columnist David Brooks observed: “Happiness wants you to think about maximizing your benefits…. suffering sends you on a different course.”

During Holy week we remember Jesus and his different course on the way to the cross. Suffering is obviously distinct from happiness, but not as much from love.

For many of us love and suffering are unrelated, yet Dostoevsky notes in one of his novella’s:

“To love is to suffer and there can be no love otherwise.”

This dichotomy is revealed in this lovely, melancholic version of the timeless hymn When I Survey The Wondrous Cross sung by Celtic singer Lianna Klassen and Canadian singer-songwriter Steve Bell.

When I produced this many years ago, I remember being moved by the contrasting beauty of the line “Sorrow and love flow mingled down.”

The song’s third stanza continues to plumb this theme:
“Did e’re such love and sorrow meet? 
Or thorns compose so rich a crown”, leading to the atoning act of Jesus’ death on the cross.

May this hymn prod you to ponder anew the love and sorrow of the wondrous cross. And to hold in your heart these words from Henri Nouwen:

“In the midst of all the grief and mourning… there is love pouring out from our broken hearts, and from the pierced heart of God.”

The featured image is by the marvelous photographer Aaron Burden and shared for use via Unsplash. 


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