Fanny Crosby was one of the most prolific hymnists in history — among the more than 8,000 hymns she wrote was this week’s selection in my series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. She wrote “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” in 1869.
This is another one for which I have recollections of congregational singing that echoes in my ears when I reflect on the lyrics. Some boisterous slightly off-key voice pronounces itself just above the others in singing “Bee my glooory eeeeeevverr” and “Rest beyond the riiIIIIII-iiiiivverrr.” This hymn isn’t really a stand-out one for me in terms of theology or significant associations, but it’s one of those odd ones that sticks in my memory with its tune that can sometimes ear-worm itself into sticking longer than you’d really wanted it to.
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross
Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.
When looking at the picture I can’t decide whether or not the glasses have been added by some irreverent photoshopper!
Sorry to hear you put down a lovely gospel song. Some nice poetic imagery there, “Near the cross, a trembling soul, / Love and mercy found me.” And an important theological point–that no matter how far we advance in our spiritual pilgrimage, we need to walk in the shadow of the cross (I Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14).
Doane’s tune is a singable one–no wonder it sticks in your mind. But shame on you for using the lack of singing ability of one congregant to cast aspersions on the song itself. “The Lord does not see [or hear] as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at [and listens to] the heart” (I Sam. 16:7).