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BENEATH THE CROSS: A 1868 poem that turned into a 2011 hymn
Words by Elizabeth Clephane, Music and Chorus by Robert Weston Gilliard

Producer/Engineer: Dave Sands
Drums: Brad Mayeux
Bass: Doug Merritt
Guitars: Chris Decker
Keys/Synth/Strings/Organs/Loops: Robert Weston Gilliard
BGVs: Robert Weston Gilliard and Leah Taylor

BENEATH THE CROSS is a poem written by Elizabeth Clephane in 1868.  Upon reading her words, I searched for a recording of the poem as a song but was unable to find it.  One day, I took her words and began to let my own melody pour out of me at my piano.  As I sang these words, they began to stir up something inside of me.  In my private worship I began singing the chorus you hear at the end of each verse.  This song has become my anthem of transparency and dependency of the cross.   My hope is that her words are not lost in a book somewhere, but will be reintroduced to a whole new generation.  I also pray that my added chorus will remind you throughout the day of the cross and this beautiful poem.

MORE ABOUT “BENEATH THE CROSS:”

I love studying old hymns, who wrote them and where they came from.  In my studies, I cameacross this old poem and was just drawn to the words. I read it over and over until I became increasingly interested in the story behind it.  There was something about the way the writer spoke of the cross as the ONLY glory in their life.  I thought that the writer would have a horrible story of sin and destruction.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that the writer was,

1) a women nicknamed “sunbeam” (don’t judge her by her photo);

2) practically a saint who had given away her fortune to the sick and needy; and

3) born with physical limitations–yet accomplished so much in a short life.

Her story has been a source of much pondering in my life lately.  Here are some of the things this poem and its writer have brought to my heart:

I Thank God for Women.
Seriously, if it was not for women, I wouldn’t even have a ministry.  And for some reason, women are always pushed in the shadows and never get thanked, recognized nor allowed to reach their full potential.  It was sad for me to read that Elizabeth’s poetry had to be published anonymously during–and even after her lifetime.      I am so thankful that Elizabeth didn’t let sexism of her day stop her from sharing her work.  I am thankful that she continued without monetary gain or even recognition.    I am especially thankful for the humble, hardworking women in my life that push me to serve and know God more.


We MUST overcome our generational gaps
We have to teach our older generation to love and be patient with our youth. It wasn’t very long ago that they were in the same place fighting for relevance in the church.  Together–and only together–we are the Bride of Christ and the future of our church.   For more on my heart on this matter visit my friend Andrew Kirk’s ministry site http://www.daphnekirk.org/

What is ironic about hymns is that when you really study them, you learn that they were the “contemporary” music of their day.  These songs were banned from churches at the time they were written. They were said to be too worldly and sensual.   So as you can see, the typical church montage of “We aint never done it that way before” is actually keeping the church about a century behind the times…when we should be the leaders of the music industry.    The world should be looking at us marveling at what we are going to create next?  But at the same time, our heritage, our hymns and that message should still be celebrated and not forgotten.

I NEED the cross daily
If this “Mother Theresa” of a woman can admit her dependency on the cross…If she can confess her sin to the world…If she can come to the end of her life and tell people that she is not proud of anything in her life but the cross, then why can’t we be transparent as Christians.  Why does the world look at the church as a country club they can’t join.   Why does the world think the church is judging them instead of loving them.  How have we forgotten that we are just like them—save that we are sheltered by His grace.

So as you take up your cross tomorrow morning, let the world see you BENEATH THE CROSS as you live out your faith.

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One thought on “SONG: BENEATH THE CROSS

  1. Excellent Job Rob. Great blog. Loved the history, infused with your passion and your heart for our generation. Nicely done. The song…is one of my favorites in your repertoire. You have been blessed with many gifts my friend!

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