The Old Rugged Cross

The Old Rugged Cross

For: Jeremy

George Bennard

George Bennard

An American hymn composer and preacher, George Bennard was born in the coal-mining and iron-production town of Youngstown, Ohio, in 1873. Sometime later, the family moved again to Lucas, Iowa.
He accepted Christ as his Savior at a Salvation Army meeting and aspired to become a Christian evangelist, but he was compelled to support his mother and sisters when his father died suddenly. After marrying, Bennard became active in the Salvation Army and preached throughout the United States and Canada. After some time he and his wife left the Salvation Army and he became an evangelist in the Methodist Church.

Bennard wrote the first verse of “The Old Rugged Cross” in Albion, Michigan, in the fall of 1912, as a response to ridicule that he had received at a revival meeting. In 1913, Bennard was in evangelistic meetings at the Friends Church in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where he wrote the other verses to the hymn. Charles H. Gabriel, a gospel-song composer helped Bennard with the harmonies.

The completed version was then performed in 1913, by a choir of five, accompanied by a guitar in Pokagon, Michigan, at the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon. Published in 1915, the song was popularized during Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns and first recorded by Virginia Asher, in 1921.

George Bennard Memorial

George Bennard Memorial

Bennard retired to Reed City, Michigan, and the town maintains a museum dedicated to his life and ministry. He died in Reed City, where the local Chamber of Commerce erected a cross near his home. Bennard is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

A memorial has also been created in Youngstown at Lake Park Cemetery. A plaque commemorating the first performance of the song stands in front of the Friend’s Church in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

 


Listen to this song on You tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAB41b3gNU0


As you read the words to this beautiful hymn please notice that Rev. Bennard in his words focused on what Christ’s death meant for him and what he would and should do because Christ died on that cross for him, for you and for me.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine
Such a wonderful beauty I see
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

The Cross

The Cross

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
It’s shame and approach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.