Lyrics (click here to hear instrumental)

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.

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 unworthiness.

3 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.

Elizabeth C. Clephane

The History Behind the Hymn

I never heard of Elizabeth Clephane until I did the research on this hymn. Of course, I knew the hymn but knew nothing about its author. What a blessing to read of her life! She is in the same company as a few of my friends who are undergoing the same frail health.

Elizabeth Cecilia Douglas Clephane was born in Scotland in 1830 and died in 1869. The daughter of a county sheriff, she lived most of her brief life near Edinburgh.

Though in frail health most of her life, Elizabeth found the strength to help the poor and sick in her town. She and her sister gave all that they could spare to charity including, it is said, selling their horse and carriage for the benefit of the needy. The townspeople of Melrose referred to Elizabeth as “the Sunbeam.”

“Beneath the cross of Jesus,” focusing on the shelter of the cross, was first published three years after the author’s death in 1872 under the title “Breathings on the Border,” perhaps a double entendre referring to a geographical location near Melrose, the Scottish Borders, and a reference to the border between life and death. 

Originally five stanzas, another omitted stanza, perhaps autobiographical, provides further insight into the comfort that the writer found in the shadow of the cross and the inspiration that the cross gave her as she anticipated her own death:

There lies beneath its shadow,
but on the further side,
the darkness of an open grave
that gapes both deep and wide;
and there between us stands the cross,
two arms outstretched to save,
like watchman set to guard the way
from that eternal grave.

A Lesson for Me

Isa 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

When the realization hits as to why Christ came to earth and what He did for me, my heart was broken. Someone else took my punishment!

Why would the Lord do this for me? With my finite mind, there is no way I can comprehend the mind of God. But what I can comprehend is His Word. The Scriptures tell us of His love (John 3:16), and that His mercy is new every single morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)! There is balm to be had for the deepest wounds!

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 unworthiness.

Message for today

The moment I meditate on God’s redeeming love, and my unworthiness of His saving grace, my heart is stricken with the same tears as Elizabeth’s. How many tears have been shed for the same reasons? Each one of those tears is recorded in Heaven. (Psalm 56:8) Every heartache, every tear of joy, every tear shed when I lost someone dear, is known by my Heavenly Father!

Are you hurting today, Reader? Have you spent half the night crying? Are you in the same ill health as Elizabeth? If you are born again, your Father knows all about it. He is there to apply that balm to your distraught heart. Will He remove your sickness or problem? I don’t know. But what I do know is that He will provide you with the strength to live through each and every day.

But if you are not born again, it’s time you find forgiveness and peace at the foot of the cross of Jesus. He stands waiting to hear from you. It is there you will find peace for your soul! (Matthew 11:28-30)

Pro 15:29  The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

The Lord hears your prayer when you turn to Him with a repentant heart and ask His forgiveness. Invite Him into your life – make a decision to follow Him every day. He hears the prayers of His children. If you do not get saved, the verse above says that He is far from you. Do not be far, Reader. Turn to Him before it’s eternally too late.

If you are not truly born-again, there is coming a time when it will be too late for you to repent and be saved. It is no coincidence that God has placed you here for such a time as this so that you may be saved if you are not already. Please click here and the link will open up in a separate tab You Can Be Born Again and Know It!