Three stanzas sing of Christ’s love for us on the cross. The hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is nestled between stanzas 2 and 3, bringing this beloved tune and text into our hearts and minds. Unison voices enter amid the music box accompaniment to gently deliver stanza 1. Divided voices identify Calvary, leading into the prayerful refrain at measure 12. Stanza 2 begins with men on the melody, answered by unison women. A quick shift to traditional homophonic writing moves the melody back into the soprano voice. Text on the Lamb of God sent “to give us peace and love” leads into the return of the refrain. The congregation may join on the melody of “When I Survey.” The final stanza moves the key from E minor into F minor, singing of sorrow as Christ dies for us. But it does not end there, for Christ is victorious over death as celebrated in the remain text. The refrain ends the anthem in prayer asking for mercy.
The accompaniment moves across the range of the keyboard from light high registers to rich full-bodied chords. Dynamic contrasts, minimal accidentals, and traditional harmonies make this easy to learn. The vocal parts are large ranges but suited to the adult singer. The bass line does rise to a high E-flat, which may stretch your men.
Performance options include singing the hymn without the congregation joining. The final refrain, measure 59 to the end, may be used as a call to prayer or call to confession.
Appropriate days: Service themes on forgiveness; personal commitment; revival; and Sundays in Lent.
Age Level 6-8
Difficulty of vocal parts 4
Difficulty of accompaniment 7
File Size: 2.95 MB