THERE IS A GREEN HILL FAR AWAY
Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander, 1823–1895
Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:16)
The full understanding of the depth of suffering that our Savior endured at Calvary for our redemption is difficult to grasp. When Mrs. Cecil Alexander, one of England’s finest hymn writers, was attempting to explain to her Sunday school class the meaning of the phrase from the Apostles’ Creed, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried,” she felt inadequate. She had always believed that one of the most effective ways to teach sound spiritual truths to children is through the use of appropriate hymns. She decided, therefore, to put the details of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross into a simply worded but appealing song that could be easily understood by the children in her class. Although the hymn with its direct style of wording and clearly expressed thoughts was originally intended for youth, it had an immediate appeal to adults as well. After the lilting melody was composed for the text in 1878 by George C. Stebbins, the hymn became widely used in the Moody-Sankey evangelistic campaigns, as it has been in church services since then.
Friends of Mrs. Alexander said that her life was even more beautiful than her writing. After her marriage to William Alexander, archbishop and primate of the Anglican church for all of Ireland, she engaged herself in parish duties and charity work. Her husband said of her, “From one poor home to another she went. Christ was ever with her, and all felt her influence.” Mrs. Alexander had been active before her marriage in the Sunday school movement, and her love of children and interest in their spiritual instruction never diminished. Almost all of the 400 poems and hymns that she wrote were prompted by this concern.
Adults as well as children have loved this particular hymn, written by a devoted woman who had a sincere desire to help others to truly appreciate the extent of Christ’s agony on the cross and the magnitude of His love.
There is a green hill far away, outside a city wall, where the dear Lord was crucified, who died to save us all.
We may not know, we cannot tell, what pains He had to bear; but we believe it was for us He hung and suffered there.
He died that we might be forgiv’n. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heav’n, saved by His precious blood.
There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin; He only could unlock the gate of heav’n and let us in.
Chorus: O dearly, dearly has He loved! And we must love Him too, and trust in His redeeming blood, and try His works to do.
For Today: John 19; Romans 5:6–11; Ephesians 1:7, 8; Titus 2:13, 14
Express your gratitude for Christ’s “redeeming blood.” Let the truth of His great love motivate you to “try His works to do.”
Osbeck, K. W.
- Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purpe garment, And said, Hail King of the Jews. And the smote him with their rods Then Pilate went forth again, and said unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know, that I find no fault in him at all. Then came Jesus forth wearing a crown of thorns, and a purple garment. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the man. Then when the high Priests and officers saw him, they cried, saying, Crucify, crucify him. Pilate said unto them, Take ye himm, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate then heard that word, he was the more afraid, And went again into the common hall, and said unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him none answer. Then said Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to loose thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above therefore he that delivered me unto thee, hath the greater sin. From thenceforth Pilate sought to loose him, but the Jews cried, saying, If thou deliver him, thou art not Ceasar’s friend: for whosoever maketh himself a King, speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate heard this word, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place called the pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the Preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said unto the Jews, Behold your King. But they cried, Away with him, away with him, crucify him, Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The high Priests answered, We have no King but Caesar. Then delivered he him unto them, to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bare his own cross, and came into a place named of dead men’s skulls, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote also a title, and put it on the cross, and it was written, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified, was near to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Then said the high Priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews, but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have writtn. Then the soldiers, when they had cricified Jesus, took his garments (and made four parts, to every soldier a part) and his coat: and the coat was without seam woven from the top throughout. Therefore the said one to another, Let us not divide it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be. This was that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They part my garments among them, and on my coat did cast lots. So the soldiers did these things indeed. Then stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. And when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son. Then said he to the disciple, Behold thy mother: and from that hour, the disciple took her home unto him. After, when Jesus knew that all things wre performed, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, It is finished, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews then (because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross the Sabbath day: for that Sabbath was an high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken down. Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other, which was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there our blood and water. And he that saw it, bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe it. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, Not a bone of him shall be broken. And again another Scripture saith, They shall see him whom they have thrust through. And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for a fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take down the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave him license. He came then and took Jesus’ body. And there came also Nicodemus (which first came to Jesus by night) and brought of myrrh and aloes mingled together about an hundred pounds. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wrapped it in linen clotehs with the odors, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. And in that place where Jesus was crucified, was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid. There then laid they Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation day, for the sepulcher was near. John 19
- For Christ, when we were yet of no strength, at his time died for the ungodly. Doubtless one will scarce die for a righteous man: but yet for a good man it may be that one dare die. But God setteth out his love toward us, seeing that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life, And not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:6–11
- By whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to his rich grace: Whereby he hath been abundant toward us in all wisdom and understanding, Ephesians 1:7-8
- Looking for that blessed hope, and appearing of that glor of that mighty God, and of our Savior Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purge us to be a peculiar people unto himself, zealous of good works. Titus 2:13, 14