Songs that changed worship culture: The Wonderful Cross by Chris Tomlin

The Wonderful Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross  on which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride

O the wonderful crossO the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find That I may truly live
O the wonderful cross O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name
See from His head His hands His feet sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet or thorns compose so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine that were an offering far too small
Love so amazing so divine demands my soul my life my all

© 2000 songs

The first time I remember hearing “The Wonderful Cross” was in worship.  The service was going along and all of a sudden, I had the realization that I already knew this song–well sort of.  During the first two verses the congregation jumped on board greedily, as if they were going after the list slice chocolate pie, but then the chorus came.  Wait.  That hymn doesn’t have a chorus, does it?  So, being the studious music student that I was attempting to become, I pulled out the 1991 Baptist Hymnal and confirmed what I had thought; Hymn #144 did not have a chorus.  Anyway, by the time I figured that out, we were well into the song and I didn’t mind.  I was entranced.

To my limited knowledge, “The Wondrous Cross” was one of the first “Praise and Worship” songs to attempt to bridge the gap between hymn and CCM.  I immediately thought, “This song is going to be huge. This is the beginning of the next big thing in worship.”

I have personally introduced this song to two different churches, and the response I received at each was eerily similar to the one that I experienced the first time I heard the song.  I think it went over so well because it sort of sucker-punches the congregation.   They love the verses, because they know them. (I guess that is how they define liking a song–I know it is twisted, but I have witness this first hand.)  Then the chorus sits a bit uneasy at first, but it has been sugar-coated to a point where the overall song is well accepted,  chorus and all.

“The Wonderful Cross” has successfully, at least in my opinion, paved the way for an entire sub-genre of church music.  This should not come as any surprise to the generation that has now witnessed hybrid cars and animals (Liger–need I say more) and now music.


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