“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
Like her contemporary, Emma Lazarus, Fanny Crosby had a tender heart, which she put to work daily among New York City’s “homeless” and “tempest-tost” immigrants, the world’s “tired … poor … huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Fanny Crosby credited her own compassionate communion with the most vulnerable to the fact that she had become completely blind within weeks of her birth due to an illness, and that her blindness had given her eyes to see the vulnerability of others.
Despite her remarkable fame as hymnist, lyricist, and poet, she desired her true “glory” to be rooted “in the cross, in the cross”—both her precious Ransomer’s cross and the crosses of her vulnerable neighbors.
Come, Jesus, beloved of the world, draw us near to your cross and, thereby, also near to the crosses of the world’s tired and poor and huddled masses. Amen.