The Story Behind the Hymn: Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross


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Fanny Crosby.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons.
Fanny Crosby. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The hymns of the Christian church inspire us as we sing them in seasons of praise, prayer, and affirmation of major doctrines of the faith.

Stories behind the hymns draw us into the lives of the writers and composers, and leave us with solemn admiration and profound respect for their talent and faithful endurance. Because of my unabated interest in these stories I picked up a book recently; Robert J. Morgan’s ‘Then Sings My Soul: Book 2’ (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004). Sure enough one of my favourite hymnists, Fanny Crosby is featured.

I love to preach on the theme of the cross of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the axis of salvation, the climax of the cosmic conflict between good and evil. So Fanny Crosby’s ‘Near the Cross’ is a favourite of mine.

Her writing career flowered at a school for the blind in New York where she received acclaim as a poet. Then on November 20, 1850 at Thirtieth Street Methodist Church she went forward to the altar and found Christ as her Saviour. The congregation was singing Isaac Watts’ great hymn about the cross:

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light

And the burden of my heart rolled away

It was there by faith I received my sight

And now I am happy all the day

Morgan continues his narrative:

Shortly thereafter, Fanny turned her poetic skills to hymn writing, and many of her songs focused on the theme of the cross, such as “At the Cross, There’s Room”, “Blessed Cross”, “Room at the Cross”, “Save Me at the Cross”, and this one, “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross”. It was composed after Cincinnati businessman William Doane gave her a melody he had written. Fanny, listening to it, felt it said, “Jesus keep me near the cross,” and she promptly wrote the words.

 Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

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 shadow o'er me. 

Near the cross I'll watch and wait, 
hoping, trusting ever, 
till I reach the golden strand 
just beyond the river.

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Comments 17 comments

twill4jc profile image

twill4jc 7 years ago

Good Hub, and great story!

glendoncaba profile image

glendoncaba 7 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse Author

Thanks twill4jc.

Gina Hoff 7 years ago

I cant find this wonderful hymn in either if the hymnals we use in the circuit I am trainig in on the Isle of Wight! Want to use it to finish the service with on Mothering Sunday on the 14th March, hopefully the congregation will know it??!! Thankyou,Gina

glendoncaba profile image

glendoncaba 7 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse Author

May I suggest you photocopy the song (which is printed in the article) and distribute to the congregation. Feel free to access the linked for the music.

Kemp  6 years ago

Just a note Isaac Watts wrote Alas and Did My Savior Bleed. Ralph E Hudson wrote the refrain (which was quoted above) that was later combined with Watts' hymn to form the popular hymn At the Cross.

talford profile image

talford 6 years ago from U.S.A.

Very good. Keep it up.


glendoncaba profile image

glendoncaba 6 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse Author

Thanks talford. Just took a look at your profile and want to read your hubs too.

God bless you.

bluebird profile image

bluebird 6 years ago

I enjoyed this. I marvel at Fanny Crosby's God-given talent, as amazing as it is simplistic.

Praise to God for all his wonderful gifts!

Danny Mulyata 6 years ago

As a beneficiary of the story behind the cross, i thank the authors of the song for finding good words of which to me they act as a prayer.I really like it, it uplifts my soul more expecially when im feeling lowly.

candy 5 years ago

she is really a God bless person and we should take lessons from her

thando mdluli 5 years ago

Great stuff but now how do I search for lyrics n story behind other hymnes? Or I'd there only one hymne on this oarticular site

Gaston 5 years ago

yes, i appreciate so much this topic the cross of Jesus. it joins us together in making one people. it unforgettable message for me i had about that cross which could let me think deeply about his sacrifice.


Lillian Bullah 4 years ago

Thank God for this song. It really inspires me and leaves me not yearning for anything more than the second coming of His Son,Jesus Christ.

Daniel 4 years ago

Anytime I hear or sing this hymn, it remembers me of that faithful day when I was been baptised in the name of God the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit. The Mass Choir of Accra Central District Seventh Day Adventist(SDA) of Ghana ministed this to my soul.

I love gospel music 4 years ago

Christopher Affum-Nyarko 2 years ago

Hearing this song triggers a thought and feeling of satisfaction in me. It establishes and confirms my strong foundation of salvation. My healing is promised by Christ's sufferings at Calvary as Fanny clearly expresses. Am strongly assured of the destination of my Christian journey. What a powerful and dedicated vessel! Worthy to be celebrated indeed.

glendoncaba profile image

glendoncaba 23 months ago from Somewhere in the hubverse Author

I am happy to see the continuous traffic to this hub, an indication that people still seek spiritual treasures.

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