Jul 192011
 

Fifth in a series featuring songs from my CD New Creation. For more information, read this link.

The Song

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.

 

The Lyrics

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.

Refrain:
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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

Translations: Cyberhymnal provides the lyrics in Hindi. Timeless Truths provides the lyrics in German and Russian.

(Do you know of any other translations of this text? Contact me.)

 

Get the Song

Buy the MP3 on iTunes:

Nailed to the Cross - New Creation: Hymns of Wonder, Love, and Praise

Buy the album on CDbaby:

 

Chord Charts

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!

 

  • So beautiful, Eric! I just got done listening to your song and simply said, “wow…”

    Mrs. Breck’s lyrics are definitely clear and concise (imagine writing verses like that amidst 5 children and the demands of home — bravo for your reference to her holding down a “full time job!”), and her last verse expresses GRACE comprehended and appreciated. Wow…

    By the way, I loved the piano stuff you were doing under present-day Carrie’s solo (2nd verse) — lovely melody & harmony, too, on the rest!

    • Thanks for the very kind words, Kimby! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Dennis A. Rogers

    I saw the song in a couple of different hymnals and I loved the lyrics but was unfamiliar with melody, so I decided to check it out online and found the tune to be rather ordinary and flat until I happened upon your musical composition and it hit me as a powerful and tear-jerking song and immediately I had goose bumps. I’ve played and sung the song a dozen or so times and would like to sing it with my sister in church. Do you have an instrumental accompanyment CD?

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Dennis! That’s exactly the response I was going for with my melody.

      Unfortunately I don’t have any accompaniment tracks available for this album; our recording setup was very acoustically based, so we can’t just edit out the vocal tracks. (However, if there’s enough interest I may consider making one.) I do have the chord charts and lead sheets above, and if you’d like those in different arrangements or transpositions I’d be happy to help.

  • Jimmy K.

    Really appreciate the music arrangement on this song. How can I get the sheet music for your arrangement. Jimmy

  • Verity Pink

    Love your sensitive rendering. You asked for translations – http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Nailed_to_the_Cross/ has German and Russian versions.