“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” (ELW 335)
1 Jesus, keep me near the cross,
there’s a precious fountain;
free to all, a healing stream
flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross
be my glory ever;
till my ransomed soul shall find
rest beyond the river.
2 Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me. Refrain
3 Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o’er me. Refrain
4 Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
hoping, trusting ever,
till I reach the golden strand
just beyond the river. Refrain
The opening phrases of the refrain of this great hymn focus so well our meditation on the cross of Jesus. Aided by the music and poetry, we join the apostle Paul in his profession: “I have decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). In the second phrase we are brought face to face with the profound mystery of the cross of Jesus: that by God’s grace, the instrument of death and defeat should stand as the very sign of the glory of God revealed in God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And then comes the concluding phrase, capturing well the whole of our salvation story: now ransomed and freed and given life through the cross of Jesus, we can confidently look forward to an eternal relationship with God in Christ Jesus our Lord. All of this is sealed by the closing final image of the river, which joins the initial image of the precious fountain flowing from the cross with a remembrance of God’s gift for us in the waters of baptism.
O God, our Hope, keep us ever near the cross, that we may continue to behold your glory in the gift of life you have promised through your love for us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.