BENEATH THE CROSS OF JESUS
Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830–1869
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV)
There is no neutral ground when we face the cross: Either we accept its atoning work and become a new person, or we reject it and remain in our sinful self-centered state. When we take our stand with Christ and His redemption accomplished at Calvary, we are compelled to make two profound confessions: “The wonders of His glorious love and my own worthlessness.”
This hymn of commitment was written by a frail Scottish Presbyterian woman of the past century, Elizabeth Clephane, who, despite her physical limitations, was known throughout her charming community of Melrose, Scotland, for her helpful, cheery nature. Among the sick and dying in her area she won the name of “Sunbeam.” “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” was written by Miss Clephane in 1868, one year before her early death at the age of 39. She wrote eight hymns, all published posthumously. Besides this hymn, only one other has endured—“The Ninety and Nine,” made popular by the tune composed for it by Ira D. Sankey.
It is obvious that Elizabeth, like most Scottish Presbyterians of her day, was an ardent Bible student, for her hymn is replete with biblical symbolism and imagery. For example:
“the mighty Rock” is a reference from Isaiah 32:2
“the weary land” is a reference from Psalm 63:1
“home within the wilderness” is a reference from Jeremiah 9:2
“rest upon the way” is a reference from Isaiah 28:12
“noontide heat” is a reference from Isaiah 4:6
“burden of the day” is a reference from Matthew 11:30
Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand, the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; a home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way from the burning of the noon day 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 wonders 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.
For Today: Psalm 22:7; Matthew 27:33, 37; Luke 9:23; Galatians 6:14