“The Wonderful Cross” by Chris Tomlin

“The Wonderful Cross” by Chris Tomlin 

Chorus 1
Oh the wonderful cross
Oh the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find
That I may truly live
Oh the wonderful cross
Oh the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace
Draw near and bless Your name

Verse 1
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

Verse 2
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

Verse 3
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


REVIEW by John Kehl

I like having modern refrains put to the Lutheran hymns (refrains that summarize the hymn message and have catchy tunes). The repeated refrain can be a good message that sticks in our minds for the rest of the week. Think of the way that refrains have helped the psalms in CW. The refrains summarize the psalm so that we see a key message in them as we sing them.

I think a good example of the effective use of the refrain put to an old hymn is “Amazing Grace” by Chris Tomlin:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

My chains are gone. I’ve been set free,
my God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.

“The Wonderful Cross” by Chris Tomlin also has a catchy and joyful refrain. Although this seems to be a popular song on the radio and in some churches, I have several concerns with “The Wonderful Cross” refrain:

“Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross bids me come and die and find that I may truly live.”

First, the refrain seems vague and confusing. What does he really mean by “bids me come and die”? Does this mean that the cross bids me to be converted (decision theology)? Does this mean that I must do something, namely die, in order to truly live (work righteousness)? Does this mean that the cross motivates me to die to sin (sanctification)? Or does this mean something else?

My second concern is that the refrain doesn’t seem to explain the main reason why the cross is so wonderful, namely that the cross is where Jesus died to wash away all my sin, or where Jesus died to pay the debt of all my sin. It seems to me that the main emphasis for the cross being wonderful should be “Jesus died for me” (justification) rather than “I died so that I might live” (what I do or did).

Here are examples of some CCM refrains that I think better explain
the wonder of the cross:

“The Power of the Cross” by Keith Getty:

This the power of the cross. Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath. We stand forgiven at the cross.

“Only in the Cross” by Sovereign Grace:

So I will glory only in the cross
Yes I will glory only in the cross
And I will make my boast
In the Lord Jesus Christ
Crucified to ransom us

“The grace song of heaven” by Keith Getty

Thank You for the cross, Lord. Forgiven we can stand,
for all the sins of man You have washed away.
Thank You for the cross, Lord.
Forgiven we can stand and know You as our King.


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