Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Beneath the Cross of Jesus"

Elizabeth Cecelia Clephane did not live to see her fortieth birthday, but she a legacy that survives to this day. Born in a little town south of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1830, she was the youngest of three girls. Despite a frail frame and failing health she was called "The Sunbeam" by those who knew her best - evidence of a cheerful disposition and a giving heart.

She loved to write poetry and had several poems published in "The Family Treasury," a Scottish Presbyterian magazine. The major portion of her poetry, however, was published anonymously after her death in 1869.

"Beneath the Cross of Jesus" was written just one year before she died and published posthumously three years later. She also wrote "The Ninety and Nine" believed to have been written especially for children.

The words of this beautiful hymn, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" touch my heart as we draw ever closer to Good Friday. They reflect a heart filled with love and gratitude for her Savior.

"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 noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

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 stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

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 or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross."



  1. Beautiful, Linda. I recognized the opening lines, but couldn't remember the tune. Your video recording let me know immediately that, yes, this was one I had sung. Dad only used it at Eastertime, so it's not as familiar to me.

    This is how I begin each Sunday: my cup of coffee, George the cat on my lap, and clicking on your post, reading, and then listening to your weekly hymn. It's become a routine I look forward to.

    The author reminds me somewhat of Emily Dickenson in that her work wasn't published until after her death. But her personality sounds like the Beth of Little Women. A good combination, actually!:)

  2. It's so encouraging to see what a legacy a person can leave even if they live a short life! Beautiful...

  3. my abiding place.
    yes, still learning about abiding.

  4. I dearly love this hymn. Beautiful Thank you!

  5. Linda,
    I was reading Especially Heather's blog and clicked on your picture. I rarely click on anyone's comments, but I'm so glad I did. I so very much enjoyed listening to the Hastings College Choir singing "Beneath the Cross of Jesus". Oh, it was beautiful! I clicked on your profile, and noticed you like bluegrass music. I don't know if you've heard of "The Lindsey Family" or not, but they sing bluegrass and they are fantastic! You can go to Google and find them. Thank you for posting this beautiful music. I am going to listen to it over and over again.
    Ann Parker

  6. There is so much strength in these words ...

  7. Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. Your blog caught my eye because I posted an article on Elizabeth Clephane's great hymn this morning.

    Thanks for the video clip, as well. I appreciate the choir's slower tempo for this meditative hymn. We are too prone to rush through our hymns, leaving little time for reflection.

    I was actually in a service, yesterday, when we raced through a song about the many names and titles of Christ. It trivialized something sacred. But someone piped up, "Could we sing that again, a bit slower? (Blessings on her. It was much improved the second time!)