Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Old Rugged Cross"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 146:2 – While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. (NKJV)

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, there are many people, like my wife and I, who have not been to church for well over a year now. There are different reasons why people miss going to church. Some miss the fellowship of other Christians, while some miss the sermon and the offered prayers. I personally miss the singing. I especially like it when the congregation sings well. With online worship, I enjoy singing along with the hymns, especially when the words are given on the screen. Singing is an important part of the worship service.

Judging by number of times that the Bible mentions singing, it is obvious that singing was important in the worship of people in Bible times. It is still important now to sing praises to God.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (NKJV)

The words of the songs that we sing express how we feel about life and about our faith. The authors of so many of the hymns wrote them based on their personal experiences, and through the words of the hymns, we get an insight into their feelings, while they reflect our own.

Even though some of us may not be good singers, we still like to sing the old hymns of the church, because we know them so well. We learned them years ago, and they speak to our hearts. So many of them are little sermons all by themselves, and quite often, they help us to tell others about our faith.

For many years, my wife and I led a worship service at the local Long Term Care Centre on Good Friday. We always ended with "The old rugged cross". It was a favourite with so many of the residents. Some of those in attendance told us afterwards how much they liked singing that hymn. In some cases, it brought tears to their eyes. It expresses so well the agony that Christ suffered as He gave His life to forgive our sins, and it also promises us our heavenly home.

    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.

    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.
           – George Bennard, 1873-1958

Do you have a favourite hymn which speaks to your heart? God wants us to sing praises to Him, whether loudly or softly, alone or in the congregation, out loud or in our hearts.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we are so thankful for all the authors of the beautiful hymns of the church which give all of us the opportunity to sing praises to Your name. We thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the good word, Joel.

    Amen Joel.
    Happy Easter.

    Amen, Joel, let’s sing out even if we can’t carry a tune! Blessings.

    Thank you, Joel,
    We agree that singing to the LORD is exhilarating and inspiring.

    Thank you.
    The modern songs are nice but give me the good old hymns any day.

    Always such a joy to read these shares of your understanding, experience and joy, Joel! Grateful for your inspiration.

    Hi Joel
    Thanks for writing a great reflection.
    It’s great to see you and Greta in this context.
    Stay well and keep writing.

    Thank you so much, Joel, for your inspiring devotional. It rings so true to me! In my quiet times, I often pray the hymns.
    Again, thank you!

    I love that song too.
    My mom used to play it on the piano, and she sang it as she played it.
    A memory that is in my heart and soul.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Thank you so much for your devotional. I love the texts that you use in reminding us that singing is important. In my Dutch heritage I also learned to sing Psalm 42:1-2 and I am so grateful for those old hymns and Psalms that bless us. Keep on singing and praising the Lord with the old hymns and new songs. Blessings.

    Yes. The singing. I led the praise songs in our church. My heart resonates with King David when he talks about leading the procession, this singer and writer of songs. Be Thou my vision is one of my favourites. Breathe on me breath of God. So many! A newer one: Be unto You Name is one I want at my memorial service. You can find it on the internet. I commend it to you. Blessings.

    Joel – one of my favorite hymns as well. Thanks for this devotional. I was reading another devotional today about crosses sent to churches. I thought, “wow what a lovely cross!” Then I thought, “perhaps too lovely.” We need to be careful not to make the cross too ‘unrugged’ – it was an instrument of torture and horrendous pain. It is the gift that Jesus gave us of his crucifixion and the resurrection, that are beautiful. God Bless your continued writing.

    I have been enjoying your contributions again recently. I particularly liked this one because I too love to sing hymns and choruses. That is probably what I miss most about attending church online. I don’t hear the voices all around me singing in joy to praise God.
    I’m happy to know you and your wife have made it through this past winter and hope your health issues are resolved or at least improved.
    Keep well and keep singing!

    Hello Joel, do you need any encouragement in your writing? I don’t think so!! I love the way you use experiences from your own life and give them spiritual meanings to give helpful meanings to at least one person who is in need.
    We have been in our church for a while with rules. The only thing that will never change is the WORD.

    Hi Joel,
    You are so right about the hymns with which we grew up. While I was In high school our family worshiped at a large church in Nebraska. Every Sunday morning the youth choir would precede the adult choir as we sang “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, Every tongue confess him King of Glory now, …”. Now in my 8th generation I remember those words so well and the scripture from which they came.
    Thanks once more for writing this devotional.

    Dear Joel,
    It is a good reminder of how much the hymns we sing in church reflect our faith and love of Christ. Thanks for the timely reminder as we sing along or alone the beautiful hymns we have learned over the years. I worked for Orthodox Jews for many years and realized how important music is to them. One was a beautiful singer who sang at many of their celebrations, and he would let me listen to his recordings. I remember picking the songs for my parents’ funerals because over the years I knew what songs they loved. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Good morning Joel,
    Thank you for your writing this morning. So true that hymns are a special part of our worship as the words are so meaningful for praise of our Lord and give us much reassurance in our daily living. When you asked about a favourite hymn it brought me back to my early days of training when we had a daily brief morning worship and sang “O Master Let Me Walk With Thee”. To this day that hymn is so meaningful to me. Yes, it will be a great time when this pandemic is over and we can gather together again for worship and sing beloved hymns.
    Blessings for the devotionals you write and blessings for Easter.

    Happy Easter and thank you for this.
    I too love the praise and worship and some songs and the moving of the Holy Spirit ushers us into the throne room of God!!!
    This Sunday in Church myself along with 2 ladies from Brazil and one lady from Dominican Republic will be singing Old Rugged Cross. So, thank you for this confirmation!!!
    we will sing it in English this time, we have it in our song books but in Portuguese of course.
    God is Good and HE IS ALIVE!!!!!
    God bless.

    Good Morning, Joel!
    For many years now, I have followed the Daily Presbycan devotions, enjoying the writings and teachings of the many contributors, including your teachings. This morning, and I read your devotion, I began to think of the many old hymns that I was taught and how much I, too, have missed the music this past year of pandemic.
    Thank you for honouring the old-time hymns! They remain moving, mini-sermons in my mind and heart, especially the hymns associated with special times of the year.
    Keep writing! Keep teaching us!

    Thank you, Joel, for your touching devotional accompanied by one of my favourite hymns for Easter, and my mother’s. Tears always come when I hear it, as it brings back fond memories of my dear mother.
    As I was reading your words, the hymn Wonderful Words of Life was resonating in my head, which kind of fits in with your devotional too.
    Often God gives me just the right words when I need them: One day as I lay thinking of all that has come my way, I realize it is nothing compared to what God went through for me and all sinners.
    Happy Easter Joel to you and yours, I pray that God’s people turn back to him and he will heal our land.

    Just saying thanks for your devotional about singing in church, and I appreciate your writings about singing the old hymns we grew up with. Yes, we KNOW them, and we sing them heartily because they SAY something! The old hymns are beautifully written and as you say, a sermon, a prayer in themselves.
    My church too has been closed since last March. I am the organist. We have a beautiful choir to lead singing and provide inspiring anthems. I miss it. But during this time of no in-house worship, our church has provided video services. They are well done but changes have been made so that viewers will not get bored and tune out. There’s a trend towards shorter services, less prayers, less structured service, and more ‘upbeat songs’. The writing seems to be on the wall that when we return to in-house services, that all these changes that were made will stay.
    Traditional organ and singing traditional hymns are being cast aside.
    I was heartened to read your thoughts on the hymns that we love and love to sing. It is good to know that there are others out there who feel as I do.

    Dear Joel:
    Thank you for another great devotional. I, too, love all the old hymns and sing some every day. We were born into a Christian family and attended evangelical churches all our lives. Music has been one of our best “connections” to our Lord Jesus.
    When my grandson was three and a half years old, he arrived at our home, very excited to share his experience. With pure delight, he announced: “Nana! I learned a new song. Daddy teached me! Wanna hear it?” (As if I could say “no”!)
    I hurriedly fetched my little recorder and he leaned into it and sang – mostly off key – “I’m a blood bought, born again child of the King. I been baptized, sanctified, and this is why I sing! I’m so glad Jesus came, glo-ry to His name. I’m a child of the King!”
    He was grinning with delight. I hugged him and asked him if he knew what all those big words meant. He replied, “Yes, Nana, I do! It means I asked Jesus to live in my heart” – he patted his chest – “and He’s in here FOREVER”!!!
    Of all the beautiful hymns I’ve heard and sung, that little boy’s voice of praise and excitement most thrills my soul. Praise God, as an adult, he stills walks with His King Jesus!

    Thank you for your devotional. Yes, singing songs of God are very important. My favorite during Easter is: “He Lives.” Joyous Easter.

    Thank you for all you put into ministry at the LTC. My mom was there over 12 years and I know she enjoyed the hymns and Bible teaching you did.
    May God continue to bless you and your wife.

    Singing is extremely important to me. I have been in choirs all my life, now unable as I can’t do the standing.
    I sing the hymn attached to the devotional too. And yes, today’s a favourite.
    Thanks for writing about this.

    Hi, there’s some good singing available online. Have a good Easter!

    Holy Week encompasses moments in our life journey – Palm Sunday, recognition and acclaim, Good Friday, betrayal, suffering, pain, doubt, death, and Easter Sunday, victory over evil giving us Joy and Hope of Resurrection.

    Good Morning Joel,
    I enjoyed reading your devotional. I too miss the church singing, as well as other aspects of being able to worship in person.
    The Old Rugged Cross was a favourite of my grandfather. Even though he died 50 years ago my grandmother often played this song on the piano for nearly 30 years after his death. Reading your devotional and hearing the hymn brought back memories of my grandparents and the strong faith they instilled in their children and grandchildren.
    I read your devotional on Wednesday but felt compelled to read it again on Good Friday.
    Thank you for being a frequent writer for the daily devotional.
    May God bless you and your family.

    Thank you Joel
    For me that hymn is There is a green hill far away

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