(# 341), a Hymn Devotion for 22 June 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
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“And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
(Isaiah 32:2; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
How can we abide the singing of this reverent hymn without arousing tears of gratitude and repentance in the Deep of our hearts’ over all that our Lord has done in love for us! It carries us to an altogether higher plane of our spiritual understanding. “Deep calleth unto Deep” (Ps 42:7) as the Psalmist proclaims, and the echo of God’s love reverberates through every echelon of our being.
This hymn was composed by Elizabeth Clephane of Edinburgh, daughter of the Sheriff of Fife, in 1868. Elizabeth was a quiet, compassionate girl known as “My Sunbeam” by the sick and suffering to whom she voluntarily ministered. She acknowledge her nickname by writing:
“I take, O Cross, thy shadow for my abiding place,
I ask no other sunshine than the Sunshine of His Face.”
She is also the author of one other hymn, The Ninety and Nine. The tune is St. Christopher by Frederick C. Maker (1881)
BENEATH THE CROSS OF JESUS
Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,-
the shadow of a mighty rock
within a weary land;
a home within a wilderness,
a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat
and the burden of the day.
Upon that cross of Jesus,
mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One,
who suffered there for me:
and from my smitten heart, with tears,
two wonders I confess,-
the wonder of his glorious love,
and my own worthlessness.
I take, O cross, thy shadow
for my abiding-place;
I ask no other sunshine than
the sunshine of his face,
content to let the world go by,
to know no gain nor loss,-
my sinful self my only shame,
my glory all the cross.
Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,- the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; a home within a wilderness, a rest upon the way, from the burning of the noontide heat and the burden of the day. The title of this hymn itself speaks volumes. There will always be an abundance of room ‘beneath the cross of Jesus.’ Men do not swarm to that place of devotion, especially in our day. Our light and frivolous contemporary worship does no honor to the Lord who died for us. But the author of this hymn took her place willingly and with pleasure. On that fateful day of our Lord’s crucifixion, all had deserted Him – His closest friends, disciples, and, in His human feeling, even the Father. But let us not forget those who did brave the foot of the cross – the women to whom Christ had done and meant so much. And there was one other, John, the Apostle of Love, young and tender of heart who could not forbear His Lord’s dying alone. He was compelled there by an unquenchable love. The shadow made by that cross was a cooling balm to a dry and thirsty land where no water was. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.” (Psalms 63:1) Our pilgrimage in this world is “a dry and thirsty land,” yet the cross leads the Way as an Ensign on the battlefield thereof. Though we grow weary, we look to that Ensign and are renewed in strength. What price can we pay that compares to that which He paid for us. The Lord Jesus Christ is not only our Passover, but our Rest (Sabbath) as well.
Upon that cross of Jesus, mine eye at times can see the very dying form of One, who suffered there for me: and from my smitten heart, with tears, two wonders I confess – the wonder of his glorious love, and my own worthlessness. That cross belonged to Christ alone – no other was qualified to bear it, or to endure the penalty for our sins upon it. Can you, in your own mind’s eye, see that sacrifice made for you on the cross? His heart was fixed, not on a multitude, but upon each of us in Christ from the foundation of the world – BY NAME! The Names of His faithful were CUT in the palms of His Hands! “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. *16Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16) The Love of Christ surpasses every measure of the human mind. Though our sins are great and egregious, His Love is greater by far.
Though Christ died on the cross, His love never dies! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding-place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face, content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss – my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross. Have we resolved to live in the shadow of the cross of our Lord? In all our daily walk and failures, do we look to that cross for succor as the children of the wilderness looked to the brazen serpent for healing (which only foreshadowed the greater assumption of our sins by Jesus on the Cross at Calvary)? The Sunshine of His Love must not be eclipsed by the desires and temptations of this world. “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:20-23)
The cross is a shameful instrument of torture, yet, it is the Fountainhead and Glory of the redeemed sinner. The false glimmers and swamp lights of the world confound us daily, yet in the midst of a chaotic world of lies and deceit, we can look to the cross to know absolute love and absolute truth. The sunbeams emanating therefrom light the path of the pilgrim in search of a better land – the Way, the Truth and the Life – in our Lord Jesus Christ.