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The San Damiano Cross is the large cross before which St.Francis of Assisi was praying when he is said to have received the divine commission to rebuild the Church.

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The San Damiano Cross is thelarge cross before which St.Francisof Assisi was praying when he is saidto have received the divinecommission to rebuild the Church.

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Welcometo OUR 24th VIRTUAL GSP class!

the Holy Cross

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Presented by

Charles E.Dickson,Ph.D.

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Almighty God,

whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ

was lifted high upon the cross

that he might draw the whole world unto himself:

Mercifully grant that we,

who glory in the mystery of our redemption,

may have grace to take up our cross and follow him;

who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,

one God,

in glory everlasting.


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Christ on the Cross, 1631,by Rembrandt

Christ Crucified, 1632, by Diego Velazquez


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Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), 1954, by Salvador Dalí

Christ of Saint John of the Cross,1951, by Salvador Dali


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There are four basic iconographic representations of the cross:• the crux quadrata, or Greek cross , with four equal arms;• the crux immissa, or Latin cross, whose base stem is longer than the

other three arms;• the crux commissa, in the form of the Greek letter tau, sometimes

called St.Anthony’s cross; and• the crux decussata, named from the Roman decussis, or symbol of

the numberal 10, also known as St.Andrew’s cross for the supposedmanner of St.Andrew’s martyrdom.

Tradition favors the crux immissa as that on which Christ died, butsome believe that it was a crux commissa.


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The ankh, a tau cross surmounted by a loop and known as cruxansata, was adopted and extensively used on Coptic Christianmonuments.

The swastika, called crux gammata, composed of four Greekcapitals of the letter gamma, is marked on many early Christiantombs as a veiled symbol of the Cross.


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The word “cross,” as translated from theGreek word "stau•ros" in the NewTestament, actually means “an uprightpale or stake” and does not imply twopieces of timber. The word appeared inEnglish in the 10th century, graduallyreplacing rood. It comes from theLatin crux, via Old Irish cros.

It was a vertical stake in the ground thatoften had a horizontal piece attached atthe top or just below the top of thevertical piece.

The “cross” symbol that came to be twopieces of timber was thus religiousborrowing and adaptation of an earliersymbol with a long cultural and historicalpagan lineage.


Calvary, 1545-50

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The earliest known artisticrepresentations of crucifixionpredate the Christian era,including Greek representationsof mythical crucifixions inspiredby the use of that punishment bythe Persians.

The cross was an ancient pagansymbol that only later began itsassociation with Christianity some300 years after Jesus' time duringEmperor Constantine’s reign.

The cross symbol used long beforethe Christian era goes back atleast to the ancient Egyptianankh.


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The Celtic cross, now oftencharacterized by the presence ofthe outline of a circle upon whicha cross, stylized in a pre-MedievalCeltic fashion, appearssuperimposed. It bears strongresemblance to the Christiancross.

It, however, predates Christianityby at least 3,000 years. It appearsin the form of heavily sculpted,vertically oriented, ancientmonoliths that survive in thepresent day, in various locationson the island of Ireland.


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Many nations feature a cross in their national flag.

The flag of Denmark traces its origin to thecampaigns of Valdemar II (r.1202-41).


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The Swiss flag goes back to the1300s when Swiss Confederatetroops started using a whitecross on red background astheir battlefield ensign

The Red Cross symbol originated fromthe First Geneva Convention in 1864when . an inverted Swiss flag wasused as a tribute to Henry Dunant,the Swiss founder of the InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross.

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The Episcopal Church flag has the red Cross of St.George on a white field symbolic of the Church of England.

The Christian flag isan ecumenical flag designed inthe early 20th century.

Christian churches often feature a cross in their church flags.


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Literary examples of the cross include stories of Count Dracula andFaust. In these stories a cross is used to repel the evil power of thevampire and Mephistopheles.


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The Cross, the instrument of Jesus'death, is the central symbol of theChristian faith. It represents Jesus'offering and sacrifice of His life inlove for us and our salvation. TheCross thus symbolizes the Christianlife, especially in terms of love,generosity, and sacrifice.

Christians now use the Crossalmost universally to signify whowe are. Crosses are all over theplace–on the fronts of churches,on stationary, worn asjewelry. Priests make the sign ofthe Cross when they blesspeople. Our foreheads are markedwith the Cross when we arebaptized or anointed.


Santa Croce Crucifix, 1287–88,by Cimabue

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A Jerusalem crossis a cross with foursmall crosses inbetween the armsof a larger cross.

This five-fold crossmay haveoriginated in the11th century.

The symbolism isvariously given asChrist’s FiveWounds, Christand the fourevangelists, orChrist and the fourquarters of theworld.


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A Christus Rex (Christ the King) is across with a figure of the risenChrist in glory. His eyes are openand head upright and His armsstretch firmly outwards. He looksboldly to the front, not so muchconstrained by the cross, assuperimposed upon it.


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Crucifix in the Basilica di Santo Spirito , 1492,

attributed to 17-year-old Michelangelo

A crucifix is a cross with a figure of thecrucified Christ, usually three-dimensional.

In the early Middle Ages Jesus wasdepicted with open eyes and a calm facereflecting the prevalent theologicalemphasis on the Resurrection. By the 13th

century, the crucifix had begun to showJesus twisted and bleeding on the Cross, asthe importance of the incarnation and thehumanity of Jesus grew.

During the Reformation Protestantchurches rejected the crucifix as a human“invention,” not in frequent use in theprimitive church. They claimed the crucifixhad become the object of idolatrousCatholic veneration and so used a plaincross instead.


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The Cross becameconnected with a series ofreligious wars waged fromChristian Europe toliberate the Holy Landfrom the grasp of Muslimrulers.

Those who chose to goand fight wore a specialgarment, marked with across, over their dailyclothes.

They had “taken the cross”and came to be called“Crusaders.”


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The image of a burning cross is a potent hate symbol in the UnitedStates, popularized as a terror image by the Ku Klux Klan. Cross-burnings (called "cross-lightings" to make it seem as if they are notdestroying a Christian cross) have long been used as a traditionalsymbol in Klan rituals as well as in attempts to intimidate andterrorize victims of Klan groups.


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Early church leaders regardedcrucifixion with horror, and thus, as anunfit subject for artistic portrayal. Inthe first three centuries of earlyChristian art, the Crucifixion was rarelydepicted. Earlier renderings depictedJesus as a lamb.

Some engraved gems thought to be2nd or 3rd century have survived, butthe subject does not appear in the artof the Roman Catacombs, and it isthought that at this period the imagewas restricted toheretical Christian groups.

There are references to Christians bythe year 200 who would decoratethemselves with a cross todifferentiate themselves from Pagans.


Christ Crucified, c.1310,by Giotto

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The shape of the cross, as represented bythe letter T, came to be used as a "seal"or symbol of Christianity by the 2nd

century. At the end of the 2nd century, it ismentioned in the Octavius of MinuciusFelix, rejecting the claim by detractorsthat Christians worship the Cross.

In the early 3rd century Clement ofAlexandria calls the T-shaped Cross τὸκυριακὸν σημεῖον ("the Lord's sign"). Herepeats the idea, current as early as theEpistle of Barnabas, that the number 318(in Greek numerals, ΤΙΗ) found in Genesis14:14 was a foreshadowing of the Cross (T,an upright with crossbar, standing for 300)and of Jesus (ΙΗ, the first two letters of hisname ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, standing for 18).


The Crucifixion, 1315–30, by Duccio di Buoninsegna

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Tertullian rejects the accusation that Christians are crucis religiosi (i.e."adorers of the gibbet") and returns the accusation by likening the worshipof pagan idols to the worship of poles or stakes.

In his book De Corona, written in 204, Tertullian tells how it was already atradition for Christians to trace repeatedly on their foreheads the sign of theCross.

The earliest Western Cross images clearly in the mainstream of the Churchare 5th-century, including the scene on the doors of Santa Sabina, Rome.


Crucified Christ with Donors, 1317-27, by Ugolino di Nerio

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Depiction of Christ’sCrucifixion were rare priorto the 5th century.

The Alexamenos graffito,currently in the museumin the Palatine Hill inRome, is a Romangraffito from the 2nd

century that seems toshow a young manworshiping a crucifieddonkey-headed figure.

This graffito, thoughapparently meant as aninsult, is the earliestknown pictorialrepresentation of Jesus’Crucifixion.


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One of the earliest depiction of Christ’s Crucifixion is in an illuminated manuscript of 586, from the Syriac Rabbula Gospels

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Crucifixion, late 20th centuryby Edward Knippers

A perizoma is a type of loincloth thatwas possibly worn by Jesus duringhis Crucifixion. It is a standard artisticfeature of the Crucifixion.

However, Roman custom was tocrucify victims naked, and there is noevidence to suggest that Jesus wasan exception. It was likely added bylater artists to preserve modesty andbegan appearing by the 8th century.

Although Roman crucifixion usuallyinvolved total nakedness, a fewscholars suggest that inconsideration for the Jews, Romanexecutioners allowed a loin cloth.


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The Romans used crucifixioncommonly as a means ofpunishing wrongdoing andinsurrection. Crosses, with theirgristly burdens of dead anddecaying bodies, were frequentlyseen at the edges of towns. Itmust have been terrifying toimagine winding up on across. Death on a cross was bothexecution and extreme torture.The victim to be executed on thecross would be attached to it untildeath.

Crucifixion was a shameful deaththat carried with it a considerablestigma in Jesus' day.


Russian Orthodox depiction of the Crucifixion, 1360, by a Novgorod School painter

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The three crosses discovered inJerusalem were believed to havebeen used at Jesus’ Crucifixion aswell as two thieves (calledSt.Dismas and Gestas) executedwith him.

To one cross was affixed atitulus bearing Jesus's name, butSt.Helena was not sure until sheclaimed a miracle revealed to herthat this was the "True Cross."


The Sibiu Crucifixion, 1454-55,by Antonello da Messina

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St.Helena carved up this cross,leaving some of it in Jerusalem andtransporting a chunk to Europewhere it seemingly multiplied.

One-third remained in Jerusalem,one-third was brought to Rome anddeposited in the Sessorian basilicaSanta Croce in Gerusalemme (HolyCross in Jerusalem), and one-thirdwas taken to Constantinople tomake that city impregnable.

For several centuries afterConstantine, Christian devotion tothe Cross centered on Christ’svictory over the powers of evil anddeath, and realistic portrayal of Hissuffering was avoided.


Christ on the Cross, c.1445–67,by Fra Carnevale

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In Europe adoration of the "True Cross" gaverise to the sale of its fragments that weresought as relics. John Calvin pointed out thatall the extant fragments, if put together,would fill a large ship, an objection regardedas invalid by some Roman Catholictheologians who claimed that Christ’s bloodgave to the "True Cross" a kind of materialindestructibility, so that it could be dividedindefinitely without being diminished.

Today there are even more “True Cross”fragments on display around the world: onMount Athos, in Rome, in Brussels, in Venice,in Ghent, in Paris, in Spain, in Serbia–andeven in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, where aTrue Cross fragment came along as part of afamily chapel imported there and rebuilt byTheodore Boal for his French bride.


Stabat Mater, c.1460,By Rogier van der Weyden

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Altar crosses date from the 5th


Processional crosses date fromthe 6th century.

During the middle ages, largecrosses, or roods, were placed onbeams at the dividing pointbetween the chancel and nave ofthe church called the rood screen.

Designs for crosses became veryornate, and some crosses weredecorated with jewels.


Crucifixion with a Donor, c.1480-85,by Hieronymus Bosch

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By the 9th century artists began to stressthe realistic aspects of Christ’s sufferingand death. Subsequently, Westernportrayals of the Crucifixion, whetherpainted or carved, exhibited anincreasing finesse in the suggestion ofpain and agony.

Romanesque crucifixes often show aroyal crown upon Christ’s head, but laterGothic types replaced it with a crown ofthorns.


Crucified Christ with the Virgin and St.John, c.1485-90, by Ambrogio Bergognone

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The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre wasbuilt at the site of the True Cross’sdiscovery, by order of St.Helena andConstantine. The church was dedicatednine years later, with a portion of the"True Cross."

The church’s dedication on 14September 335 came to be celebratedas the feast of the “Exaltation of theCross.”

St.Helena’s supposed “finding” of thecross itself was given its own feast dayon 3 May: the “Invention of the Cross.”("Invention" is a rendering of the Latinterm inventio meaning"discovery.") Both feasts werecelebrated in Rome by the 7th century.


Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary, 1491, after Memling

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The original church building wasdestroyed by a fire in 614, whenthe Sassanid Empire underKhosrau II invaded Jerusalem andcaptured the "True Cross"remnant and took it fromJerusalem to Persia.

In 629 Emperor Heraclius (575-641) of Constantinople marchedinto Persia and recaptured the"True Cross" remnant. In 630he rebuilt the Church of the HolySepulchre after recapturingJerusalem. On 14 September herestored the "True Cross"remnant to its place in thissecond church. Thus this daycontinued as a Holy Cross Day.


The Crucifixion, early 16th century,workshop of Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen

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In 1009 Fatimid caliph Al-Hakimbi-Amr Allah ordered thecomplete destruction of thissecond church as part of a moregeneral campaign againstChristian places of worship inPalestine and Egypt.

In 1027–28 an agreement wasreached whereby the new Caliph,Ali az-Zahir (Al-Hakim's son),agreed to allow the rebuildingand redecoration of the thirdchurch was finally completed at ahuge expense in 1048 and thenreconstructed after the FirstCrusade. The "True Cross" is notmentioned in connection withthis third and present church.


The Mond Crucifixion or Gavari Altarpiece, 1502-03, by Raphael

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In 1870, French architectCharles Rohault de Fleurycatalogued all known "TrueCross" fragments. Hedetermined the original Crossweighed 165 pounds, was threeor four meters high, with across beam two meters wide.

If all these bits of the “TrueCross” were cobbled together,he reckoned, they would notamount to a third of the Crosson which Jesus died.

Based on the fragments deFleury was allowed to examineby microscope, he concludedthe "True Cross" was made ofpine wood.


Crucifixion, c.1514–16,by Albrecht Altdorfer

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Later, four Cross particles werealso microscopically examined–part of ten pieces of the "TrueCross," accompanied bydocumentary proofs fromByzantine emperors. Thesefragments came from grandEuropean churches: Santa Croce inRome, Notre Dame in Paris, andthe Cathedrals of Pisa andFlorence.

Scientists discovered that theywere all made of olive wood, atree not really suitable forproviding straight pieces of wood.


Christ on the Cross after side has been pierced,c.1505-77, by Leonard Limousin

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According to Eastern Orthodoxtradition the "True Cross" wasmade from three different typesof wood: cedar, pine, andcypress. This is an allusion toIsaiah 60:13:

The glory of Lebanon shall comeunto thee, the fir tree, the pinetree, and the box [cypress]together to beautify the place ofmy sanctuary, and I will make theplace of my feet glorious.

The link between this verse andthe Crucifixion lies in the words"the place of my feet, which isinterpreted as referring tothe suppedāneum (foot rest) onwhich Jesus' feet were nailed.


The Crucifixion with the Virgin and John the Baptist, c.1540

by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi (Il Sodoma)

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In 1260 Jacopo de Voragine, Bishop of Genoa, recorded in the popularLegenda Aurea (The Golden Legend) that the wood of the True Cross camefrom a seed of the Tree of Life that grew in the Garden of Eden. WhenAdam lay dying, he begged his son Seth to go to the Archangel Michael andbeg for a seed from the Tree of Life. He was buried with the seed in hismouth. The seed grew into a tree and emerged from his mouth. After manycenturies that tree was cut and the wood used to build a bridge over whichthe Queen of Sheba passed on her journey to meet King Solomon. So struckwas she by the portent contained in the timber of the bridge that she fell onher knees and worshiped it. On her visit to Solomon she told him that a pieceof wood from the bridge would bring about the replacement of God'sCovenant with the Jewish people by a new order.


Christ on the Cross between the two Thieves, 17th century,

by Frans Francken II

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In the Christian liturgical calendar,there are several different Feasts ofthe Cross, all commemorating theCross used in Jesus’ Crucifixion, withred as the proper liturgical color.

Unlike Good Friday, which is dedicatedto Christ's Passion and Crucifixion,these feast days celebrate the Crossitself, as the sign of salvation.

In Roman Catholicism, EasternOrthodoxy, and Anglicanism the mostcommon day of commemoration is 14September. To Christians, the Crossrepresents the ultimate expression ofGod’s love in the death andresurrection of Jesus Christ. The Crossmotivates believers to active faith andmission.


Christ on the Cross, c.1635-50in the studio of Angelo Nardi

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The 1979 BCP is the firstAmerican Prayer Book to includeHoly Cross Day. This PrayerBook’s Good Friday service alsoallows a wooden cross to bebrought into the church after thesolemn collects. The cross isplaced in the sight of the people,and appropriate devotions mayfollow

Holy Cross Day is known as "TheExaltation of the Holy Cross" inthe eastern church and in missalsand sacramentaries of thewestern church, and it is knownas "The Triumph of the Cross" inthe Roman Catholic Church. Itwas one of the 12 great feasts inthe Byzantine liturgy.


Crucifixion, 1866, by Gustave Dore

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The feast was observed in Romebefore the end of the 7th century. Theearliest recorded commemoration of14 September as the feast day on aWestern calendar is from the 7th


It was the Cross on the Hill ratherthan the Sermon on the Mount thatprobably produced Christianity’simpact upon the world.

“The cross puts everything to thetest,” said Martin Luther. As hethought on 1 Corinthians 1:23, hesaid: “We preach Christ crucified.”


The Christ, 1880by Léon Bonnat

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In the Gallican usage, beginningabout the 7th century, the Feast ofthe Cross was celebrated on 3 May,and called "Crouchmas" (for “CrossMass”) or “Roodmas.”

When the Gallican and Romanpractices were combined, theSeptember date was assigned tocommemorating the rescue of the"True Cross" from theSassanid Persians, and the May datewas kept as the Finding of the HolyCross or Invention of the TrueCross to commemorate the finding.John XXIII removed the May feast in1960, so that the General RomanCalendar now celebrates both thefinding and the exaltation of the HolyCross on 14 September.


Christ on the Cross, 1853. by Eugène Delacroix

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Christ in the Night, 1948,by Marc Chagall

The Hymnal 1982: according to the use

of the Episcopal Church

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Holy Cross Day themes are powerfully expressed by the 19th-centuryEnglish processional hymn "Lift high the cross" (Hymn 473), probablyinspired by the story of the Emperor Constantine’s conversion toChristianity after seeing a cross with “In hoc signo vinces” on it.

(Refrain)Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim

till all the world adore his sacred name.

1. Come, Christians, follow where the Master trod,our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.

2. Led on their way by this triumphant sign,the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.

3. Each newborn servant of the Crucifiedbears on the brow the seal of him who died.

4. O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,your death has brought us life eternally.

5. So shall our song of triumph ever be:praise to the Crucified for victory!


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Another hymn in the Hymnal 1982 that expresses devotion to thecross is Isaac Watts’s "When I survey the wondrous cross" (474).


1. When I survey the wondrous Crosswhere the young Prince of Glory died,my richest gain I count but loss,and pour contempton all my pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,save in the cross of Christ my God:All the vain things that charm me most,I sacrifice them to his blood.

3. See from his head, his hands, his feet,sorrow and love flow mingled down!did e'er such love and sorrow meet?or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,that were a offering far too small;love so amazing, so divine,demands my soul, my life, my all.

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Another hymn in the Hymnal 1982 that expresses devotion to thecross is "In the cross of Christ I glory" (441-442), which used thesame scriptural foundation as Watts’ “When I survey the wondrouscross” but to a different effect.


1 In the cross of Christ I glory,towering o'er the wrecks of time;all the light of sacred storygathers round its head sublime.

2 When the woes of life o'ertake me,hopes deceive, and fears annoy,never shall the cross forsake me.Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

3 When the sun of bliss is beaminglight and love upon my way,from the cross the radiance streamingadds more luster to the day.

4 Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,by the cross are sanctified;peace is there that knows no measure,joys that through all time abide.

5 In the cross of Christ I glory,towering o'er the wrecks of time;all the light of sacred storygathers round its head sublime.

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