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There has been a recent challenge on Facebook to post the ten most significant albums in one’s musical experience. I will just mention four to start with.  I recall the first ever LP I had was Virgil Fox playing Bach organ music.  A close second was an album lent to me of George Thalben-Ball playing the organ at the City Temple in High Holborn.  However, one of the most significant albums over the years, which I will recommend, is a recording of John Stainer’s “The Crucifixion” by the Guildford Cathedral Choir. The reason – despite the magnificence of the oratorio by Handel, “The Messiah”, which I also love, I find this sung record of the cross really much more personal.  Musically it has the most beautiful melodies and exquisite harmonies but above all the words focus on Jesus and his great work of defeating sin and death on our behalf.  There is the well-known hymn at the end of the work “All for Jesus” but perhaps less well known is the third hymn:

Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me,
While he is nailed to the shameful tree,
Scorned and forsaken, derided and curst.
See how his enemies do their worst!
Yet, in the midst of the torture and shame,
Jesus, the Crucified, breathes my name!
Wonder of wonders, oh! How can it be?
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

Lord, I have left thee, I have denied,
Followed the world in my selfish pride;
Lord, I have joined in the hateful cry,
Slay him, away with him, crucify!
Lord, I have done it, oh! Ask me not how;
Woven the thorns for thy tortured brow:
Yet in his pity so boundless and free,
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

Though thou hast left me and wandered away,
Chosen the darkness instead of the day;
Though thou art covered with many a stain,
Though thou hast wounded me oft and again:
Though thou hast followed thy wayward will;
Yet, in my pity, I love thee still.
Wonder of wonders it ever must be!
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

Jesus is dying, in agony sore,
Jesus is suffering more and more,
Jesus is bowed with the weight of his woe,
Jesus is faint with each bitter throe.
Jesus is bearing it all in my stead,
Pity Incarnate for me has bled;
Wonder of wonders it ever must be
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

The words of this hymn remind me of the last few verses of Isaiah 53..

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Jesus gave his life as the one mediator between the one perfect holy God and fallen sinful man. In other words his perfect sacrifice on the cross satisfies God’s justice on our behalf.  As Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans; “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

But there is that other beautiful picture of intercession.  He, Jesus, our man now in heaven intercedes on our behalf at the throne of God the Father for us.  The writer of the letter to the Hebrews is explaining how Jesus is able to guarantee a better covenant and goes on to explain that the priests under the Old Testament covenant all died, but Jesus lives for ever and therefore –

 “this makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.  The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

That surely is amazing grace!  Is it personal for you?

Jesus the crucified.

The whole work by Guildford Cathedral Choir.

One Comment

  1. Anthony James Howard | 28 Apr, 2020

    Thank you, Stephen, for your thoughts and the hymn. The whold piece is a moving meditation on our Lord’s steadfastness and suffering on the cross. Such is the current disruption, I didn’t even play The Crucifixion this year. You have brought it again to me.

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