Mom’s favorite hymn, At Calvary, was published in 1895 by William Reed Newell. Newell was a Presbyterian pastor, assistant superintendent of Moody Bible Institute under the famous R.A. Torrey, and well-renowned Bible expositor. His only hymn was forty years old when Mom would’ve started singing it in Itta Bena, MS.
The song meant little-to-nothing to me until five years after she died. But the song itself anticipates that very situation. doesn’t it? After years spent in vanity and pride, God brought me to the Calvary she so richly loved. I would love to sing it with her again. In God’s providence, the first time we sing it together will be for all eternity.
Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
Over 21 years, to be exact.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
The eternal refrain of the gospel: mercy, grace, pardon, liberty.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
No mystical experience. Just God exposing my guilt through the simple, clear preaching of Scripture. Trembling, repented to Calvary.
Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Jesus is the King who makes us sing.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
Calvary: the convergence of God’s love and grace for sinners.