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Elizabeth's Oasis

Would Elizabeth Clephane mind if I modernized her well-known hymn? I sat with the Scottish writer's hymn, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus," and re-wrote it, keeping each line's syllables and most of the rhyming words.

But how could Elizabeth picture a burning noontide wilderness heat if she lived in Scotland's lush green hills? Did she travel or visit the place where Jesus was crucified? Maybe. But likely she wrote the hymn as one who knows the wilderness that lies in our own hearts.

Yet, Elizabeth displays wonder and thankfulness as she celebrates the cross. To her, it's the place where she finds her rest from weariness and strivings. She even owns up to the wilderness issue by being specific with the phrase, "my sinful self." In her era, did people admit more readily that they were broken or just plain sinful?

I hope Elizabeth wouldn't feel like I'm putting her under a microscope. Really, I'd like her to know that as I sat with her hymn, she became a familiar friend, or rather, Elizabeth's words allowed Jesus to become more familiar, more known.

Is this true and possible? Scripture says yes. God can be known and we are known by him. Good Friday became good after Jesus went to the cross and took the punishment of sin that separates all humankind from a perfect, holy God.

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus” by Elizabeth Clephane (1830-1869)

Italics are my version (by Timarie Friesen)

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.

Beneath the cross of Jesus

Oh, let me always stand,

He shelters me and gives pure rest

From strivings and demands.

My heart transformed, once wilderness,

He lives in me and stays,

As Interceder, Friend who comforts.

His presence amends dark days.

Upon the 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 own worthlessness.

Upon the Cross of Jesus

I linger near to see

Envision Christ who hung and bled

He suffered there for me:

Guilt presses to eclipse the view

Grace calls out, I confess,

And marvel of his unearned love

Defies my worthlessness.

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 nor loss;

My sinful self my only shame,

My glory all the cross.

I take, this cross, its cover

And camp out in the place:

For light blazes and radiates

As I endear his face;

The world to me is life in Christ,

No fear, no doubt, no loss;

Could ever unravel the gift,

Secured at the sweet cross.



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