The Church Pianist: The Old Rugged Cross



The hymn entitled “The Old Rugged Cross” has stood the test of time. As a church pianist, I enjoy reading the stories behind the hymns.  Knowing the story behind the hymn enriches the meaning…making the hymn even more personal to me.

God used George Bennard, an evangelist of the early 1900’s to write this soul-stirring hymn.

The melody of “The Old Rugged Cross” came quite easy to George.   He tried to think of words but they didn’t flow until several months later. George had been preaching a series of evangelistic meetings on “the cross”. Many people came forward to be saved during those meetings. 

George was thrilled with the number of souls that were saved during those meetings.  He reflected on how the message of the cross was so important!

He went home after the meetings and the words to “The Old Rugged Cross” flowed from his pen as he wrote the words to a hymn we all love and cherish.

The full story to this beautiful hymn can be found in Al Smith’s Hymn Histories.  Al Smith met George Bennard many years ago and heard the firsthand account of how George wrote “The Old Rugged Cross”.

I just came across another excellent article written about George Bennard.  Hope you enjoy it as well as I did.

As a church pianist, I encourage other pianists to read the stories behind the hymns that they play. It will instill a deeper appreciation of the great hymns of faith.

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