At the Cross Where I First Saw The Light Lyrics + Video

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Alas and did saviour bleed and did my sovereign die
Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I

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

Was it for crimes that I have done he groaned upon the tree
Amazing pity grace unknown and love beyond degree

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

But drops of grief cannot repay the debt of love I owe
Here lord I give myself away it's all that I can do

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


Isaac Watts - Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed - Story Behind

Isaac Watts wrote Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed in 1707, it originally had six stanzas and no refrain. The original tune as intended by Isaac Watts is not known, but in 1800 Hugh Wilson began using his original music composition entitled Martyrdom. In 1885 Ralph F. Hudson added the refrain and the tune that we know use and know as "At The Cross".

It is interesting to note before we explore the doctrinal content of Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed, the in the Fall of 1850 at the age of thirty, Fanny J. Crosby went to the altar at the Thirtieth Street Methodist Church in New York City. She had been to the altar twice before by had not received the peace she sought. While at the altar the congregation was singing the hymn "Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed", according to her own testimony and in her own words she says:
"...it seemed to me that the light must indeed come then or never; and so I arose and went to the altar alone. After a prayer was offered, they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, 'Alas, and did my Saviour bleed, And did my Sovereign die?' And when they reached the third line of the fourth stanza, 'Here Lord, I give myself away,' my very soul was flooded with a celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting 'hallelujah,' and then for the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand and the Lord in the other."

Isaac Watts was a brilliant young man and because of his intellectual acumen and proclivity to study he was encouraged by his friends and a prominent Southampton physician to go to one of the Universities, at their expense, in hopes that he would eventually be ordained into the Church of England. Because of his background and being raised as a Dissenting Nonconformist, he refused and rather chose a nonconformist academy. He started preaching at the age of twenty-four and pastored his became pastor of a well-know independent congregation in 1702, he died on November 25, 1748.

The doctrinal content of "Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed" could be examined from a plethora of Christian Theology, Justification, Propitiation, Christology, Anthropology, Harmitiology, Soteriology just to name a few, for all of these are contained within the lines of this hymn. We will however, briefly explore the doctrine of propitiation as found in the lines of "Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed".

The word propitiation appears 3 times in our King James Bible, Romans 3:5, I John 2:2 and I John 4:10. In both instances in I John the Greek word for propitiation is hilasmos, In Romans the word is hilaste?rion. The word is "used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated); hence the lid of expiation, the propitiatory". The word hilasterion is actually translated as mercy seat in Hebrews 9:5
"And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly".

The Lord Jesus Christ became our propitiation. A good definition of the word is that Jesus Christ satisfied the holiness of an offended God and a broken law. There are two other occasions that you find the word meaning propitiation, it is translated from the Greek word hilaskomai which means to make propitiation, and it is translated as "be merciful" in Luke 18:13 "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." and "make reconciliation" in Hebrews 2:17 "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." This propitiation, no doubt is what Isaac Watts had in mind as he penned the words "Alas, and did my Saviour bleed and did my Sovereign die"

Isaac Watts may have taken the thought for his line "for such a worm as I" from Psalm 22:6 "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." Since Psalm 22 is prophetic and descriptive of the events of the crucifixion, it is enlightening to the mind of Watts as to the play on words. To the world, as they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, he was a worm, but in reality, it is sinful man who is the worm. David no doubt referred to this in Psalm 22 and it is likely that Watts was making reference to this as well.

We see a glimpse of propitiation in the lines "Was it for crimes that I had done". Yes it was for my sins, yea, and the sins of the whole world that Jesus Christ willingly laid his life down.

From the lines "And love beyond degree" Watts no doubt had the words of Jesus himself in mind for in John 15:13 the Lord Jesus declared that "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" One thing that is amazing about the love of Jesus and his "laying his life down" is that we were not friends, we were enemies as is declared in Romans 5:10.

When the Lord Jesus died, darkness was upon the whole earth. This darkness is referenced in Watts original fourth verse and is found in Luke 23:44. The Bible says that this darkness was from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. The Jewish day started at six A.M. not midnight as our days start, so this was mid day, the whole earth was dark. What was the significance of this darkness and what caused it. The liberals and agnostics try to explain this miracle away by saying that it was an eclipse of the sun, but this could not be the case. Jesus was crucified during the Feast of Passover, this always happened at the time of a full moon and an eclipse cannot happen during a full moon, also, an eclipse would not last for three hours so this cannot be the case. This was of a divine origin. Darkness is a sign of punishment. When God punished Pharaoh there was darkness. These three hours was the time that God was punishing the Lord Jesus for our sins and no doubt, he did not want the world to see this. This is what Watts was referencing and it is why Watts declared in his last verse and that we as well can proclaim, "Here, Lord, I give myself away 'Tis all that I can do.


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3 Comments/Reviews

  • S'thembiso Daka

    It is moving how Fanny Crosby, herself a great hymnwriter, found salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ with the help of this hymn!

  • Pao Joute

    Inspired song, I need it

  • Alfred Ongom

    Great message. it remind me of my sins and the price the Lord paid for my redemption.


  • Bible Verses for At the Cross Where I First Saw The Light

    Colossians 2 : 14

    having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross;

    1st Corinthians 1 : 18

    For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.