This is number thirteen in the series on hymns that I have sung in my lifetime.
While in high school and when home visiting from college, I was an Episcopalian during Holy Week. Kay Boman, my French teacher and quiz bowl coach, and I got into lots of interesting religious conversations. She was in the process of being ordained an Episcopal deacon and I was a young, Baptist preacher boy. I was interested in what she described about their Seder Supper, so one year my Sunday school teacher Debbie Durham and I went. My mother began going with me every year after that. We were drawn to the symbolism and rich liturgies and over the years also began to participate in Good Friday services at All Saints as well.
So, one good Friday service Noel Dougherty, the rector, talked about the hymn we were about to sing, "In the Cross of Christ I Glory." In Miami, Oklahoma every year the Ministerial Alliance hosted daily Holy Week services that rotated around among the churches. That year Noel had been attending a service in our home church, First Baptist, and said that he had noticed this hymn also in our hymnal. He was pleased that it was universally sung.
Except, that neither Mom nor I had ever heard the hymn. It was completely unfamiliar to us. When we got home, we did look it up, for it was in our Baptist Hymnal.
Noel discussed the meaning of the hymn and the powerful image of its opening lines "In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o'er the wrecks of time." All other empires collapse, but the cross moves forward.
It is a hymn commonly sung in the churches I've served as an adult, and I generally remark that it includes my favourite line in Christian hymnody:
In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time,
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o'er-take me,
Hopes deceive and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me:
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.
When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds new luster to the day.
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that tro' all time abide.