Fifth in a series featuring songs from my CD New Creation. For more information, read this link.
Behind the Song
Carrie Elizabeth Ellis Breck (1855-1934) was a natural poet. Although she claimed she had no sense of pitch, she wrote more than 2,000 devotional lyrics while holding down the full-time job of homemaker and mother to five girls. “I penciled verses under all conditions; over a mending basket, with a baby on my arm, and sometimes even when sweeping or washing dishes,” she recalled. “My mind moved in poetic meter.”
Like the rest of Breck’s poems, this one is simple, straightforward, and unpretentious. It’s based on a passage from the epistle to the Colossians:
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14, NIV).
The hymn text is simple in the same way the Gospel is simple: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so our sins are forgiven. The Scripture in Colossians shows that not just our sin but the moralistic system of laws was abolished by Jesus’ crucifixion; thus Breck can also allude to Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This frees us to be purified from our sins and to “joyfully journey each day” in freedom with our Savior. The Cross is not just where we take our initial step of faith but the reality of grace that shapes the rest of our lives.
I was deeply impressed with this hymn when I first read it several years ago. Good simple hymns about what the Cross means for us are surprisingly hard to find, even harder if you don’t want moralism or mawkishness. My tune wrote itself very quickly, and it’s become one of my favorites. It’s recorded here with some of my favorite musicians, including Øystein on violin, Carrie on vocals, and Petras very tastefully on percussion.
Nailed to the Cross
Text by Carrie E. Breck; music by Eric M. Pazdziora
There was One who was willing to die in my stead,
That a soul so unworthy might live;
And the path to the cross He was willing to tread,
All the sins of my life to forgive.
They are nailed to the cross,
They are nailed to the cross,
O how much He was willing to bear!
With what anguish and loss Jesus went to the cross!
But He carried my sins with Him there.
He is tender and loving and patient with me,
While He cleanses my heart of the dross;
But there’s no condemnation—I know I am free,
For my sins are all nailed to the cross.
I will cling to my Savior and never depart—
I will joyfully journey each day,
With a song on my lips and a song in my heart,
That my sins have been taken away.
(Do you know of any other translations of this text? Contact me.)
Get the Song
Buy the MP3 on iTunes:
Buy the album on CDbaby:
Click here to get chord charts and lead sheets for the entire album.
If you would like this song in another arrangement, feel free to contact the composer. I’m always open to new commissions, projects, and ideas.
If you use this song in your worship or other performance and make a recording, I’d love to see a copy!