Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hymn of the Week--Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone

Whether I can keep up a "hymn of the week" feature every Saturday or Sunday remains to be seen, but for this week I'm talking about "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone." I can't find today on Google the history I found for this a few years ago, but that version said that Thomas Shepherd was a Church of England minister in the late 1600's and wrote only the words to the first verse. (This fits with internal evidence, too, as the other verses sound quite different.) The story went that he preached a sermon for Good Friday about Simon of Cyrene and that the original words were "Must Simon bear the cross alone, and other saints go free?" If so, I'm glad it's been changed, because Jesus said we should take up our crosses and follow Him. Apparently other anonymous folks came in and wrote the later verses, and the tune is a good deal later (mid 1800's), with a sound of "Amazing Grace" to the chords.

Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for everyone, and there's a cross for me.

Just that first verse is enough to make me squirm a little, and perhaps all the more when I hear my kids singing it. After all, I don't want there to be a cross for me, much less for them. But St. Paul said that if we suffer with Him we will reign with Him. And our Lord said that if we deny Him He will deny us. So I guess we'd best get to it.

Which means no second cup of coffee this morning...


William Luse said...

It's funny how we want our kids to be saints, but don't want them to suffer in the least. We can't bear the thought of seeing it. I'd like to think mine are so good they can skate through untouched. But nobody's that good, I guess. And besides, the rain falls, etc.

Lydia McGrew said...

Exactly. I think that for my children, as for myself, I secretly hope that they can become saints with only the most minor of suffering.

Now, I will say this much in my defense: I find that suffering can have the opposite of the effect of sanctifying. It can cause the loss of a soul. One can say that this is a matter of how the person takes the suffering. True enough. But humans are frail. I suppose one thing that frightens me about the idea of my children's suffering is that their (or their own children's) souls might be imperiled by the attendant circumstances--divorce, for example.

William Luse said...

Yeah, Newman once said that suffering is liable to make a bad man worse.