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."