Prayers of the Frail

13 Well! Has the Messiah been cut up into pieces? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into Paul’s name?! 14 I’m grateful to God that I didn’t baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that none of you could say that you were baptized into my name. (16 All right, I did baptize Stephanas and his household as well. Apart from that, I don’t know if I baptized anybody else.) 17 This is the point, you see: the Messiah didn’t send me to baptize; he sent me to announce the gospel! Not with words of wisdom, either, otherwise the Messiah’s cross would lose its power.

18 The word of the cross, you see, is madness to people who are being destroyed. But to us – those who are being saved – it is God’s power. 19 This is what the Bible says, after all:

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the shrewdness of the clever I’ll abolish.

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the debater of this present age? Don’t you see that God has turned the world’s wisdom into folly? 21 This is how it’s happened: in God’s wisdom, the world didn’t know God through wisdom, so it gave God pleasure, through the folly of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 Jews look for signs, you see, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we announce the crucified Messiah, a scandal to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, the Messiah – God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25 God’s folly is wiser than humans, you see, and God’s weakness is stronger than humans. (1 Corinthians 1:13-25, New Testament for Everyone)

Elizabeth Cecilia Douglas Clephane was born in Scotland in 1830 and died in 1869. Thirty-nine years old when this daughter of a county sheriff died after living most of her life near the capital city of Edinburgh Scotland.

She was one of three sisters. She was considered to be the “frail” one of the sisters. It is something she must not have outgrown, living a relatively short life. She used much of her energy to serve the poor and sick of her community, gave to charity all she had that exceeded her daily needs, and had such a cheerful disposition, the townspeople referred to her as, “The Sunbeam.

In her 39 years, she wrote many poems but it is not clear how many poems she wrote. Many of her poems appeared in a Presbyterian magazine, The Family Treasury. She published the poems anonymously. She did not receive credit for the poems until three years after her death.

Two of her hymns, posthumously became well known. One, the “Ninety and Nine,” Published first as a poem under the title “The Lost Sheep,” and the better known today, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.”

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” was originally a five stanza poem. After her death, Fredrick C. Maker penned the tune, “St. Christopher” we use to sing the hymn today. Though it was a five stanza poem, most church hymnals today only use three.

Clephane was a strong student of the Bible and “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” contains many symbolic elements pointing to Scripture.

  • “The mighty rock” – Isaiah 32:2
  • “The Weary land” – Psalm 63:1
  • “Home within the wilderness” – Jeremiah 9:2
  • “Rest upon the way” – Isaiah 28:12
  • “Noontide Heat” Isaiah 4:6
  • “Burden of the Day” – Matthew 11:30

With such symbolism it is not surprising that this hymn has remained popular to this day.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

References 101 Hymn Stories, http://www.umcdiscipleship.org, peoplepill.com

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