Tony Loeffler: Looking at 'Hims'

Saturday 1st April 2000

Written and researched by TONY LOEFFLER

Tony Loeffler
Tony Loeffler

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame,
and I love that old cross, where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.

On that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, a wondrous attraction to me,
For the dear Lamb of God, left his glory above, to bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see,
For it was on that old cross, Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.

To that old rugged cross, I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then he'll call me some day, to my home far away, where his glory forever I'll share.

Written & Composed by George Bennard, 1873-1958

This gospel hymn, a sentimental favourite of Christians and unsaved alike, was written by George Bennard in 1913. It is generally conceded to be the most popular of all 20th century hymns. A coal miner's son, Bennard was born in Youngstown, Ohio. At the age of 15 he worked in the coalmines to support his widowed mother. During a Salvation Army meeting in the town of Lucas, Iowa, he was converted, and later he and his wife became ardent Salvation Army workers. He became a brigade leader in the corps before he left the Salvation Army to become an independent evangelist.

For some time he was busily involved in conducting revival services, especially throughout the states of Michigan and New York. One time, after returning to Michigan, he passed through a trying experience which caused him to reflect seriously about the significance of the cross and what the Apostle Paul meant when he spoke about entering into the fellowship of Christ's suffering. As Bennard contemplated these truths, he became convinced that the cross was more than just a religious symbol but rather the very heart of the Gospel.

Bennard began writing the hymn late in the fall of 1912. Homer Rodeheaver, the popular song leader for evangelist Billy Sunday, used this new song immediately and was greatly responsible for its early popularity. Bennard continued his evangelistic ministries for 40 additional years following the writing of this hymn. His last years were spent in Reed City, Michigan, where he was loved and honoured. In 1956 the Reed City Chamber of Commerce erected a wooden cross 12 feet high near his home with an inscription honouring him. On October 9, 1958, at the age of 85, Bennard exchanged his "Cross for a Crown."

© American musicianary Tony Loeffler has recorded the hymns in Cross Rhythms' 'Hims' series. The 'Hims' album is available, with or without spoken historical/biographical readings, from Kingdom Developments, 28 Old Park Road, Peverell, Plymouth, Devon PL3 4PY. Tel: 01752 225623. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Loeffler
Tony LoefflerTony is a Musician/Evangelist who has performed in Iceland, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Canada, India, Cuba, Uganda and in almost every state in the USA. He is known and respected for his extensive work in prisons where he has performed for over 900,000 inmates worldwide and has seen over 100,000 of them make a decision to trust in the Lord for salvation. He has performed in drug rehabs, churches, schools, parks, festivals, including six times at the infamous Sur Montreux Jazz/Rock Festival in Switzerland. He has also performed many times at the Cross Rhythms Festival in Devon. He has been quite active since 1999 in the country of Cuba and brings mission teams into that country 7 to 10 times a year. He has recorded 14 albums, "Cuba para Cristo" being his newest offer which is a combination of English and Spanish tunes, reflecting his work in Cuba. Visit his website for more details on his ministry or to purchase some of his music: Tony Loefflers Website. Alternatively you could check out their mall to support the prison ministry.

You can also buy Tonys CDs through Cross Rhythms Direct!


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