Behind the Hymn: Take Up thy Cross, the Savior Said

Take Up Thy Cross, The Saviour Said is not to be confused with the more popular Take Up Thy Cross and Follow Me {Wherever He Leads I’ll Go}.

William Gardiner

Take Up Thy Cross, The Saviour Said was written by Charles William Everest.

Charles William Everest was born on May 27, 1814 in East Windsor, Connecticut. After graduating Trinity College, he took Holy Orders in 1842. He was a minister in Hamden, Connecticut for the next thirty years. He died on January 11, 1877 in Waterbury, Connecticut.

The lyrics were first written as a poem by Everest, which was published in 1833 in the Episcopal Watchman magazine. The poem was published under the title “Visions of Death”.

A year later the poem was published in The Tract, a publication in the United Kingdom.

In 1835, the hymn was published in Union Sabbath-School Hymns.

The lyrics are based on Mark 8:34, “Whosoe’er will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

William Gardiner arranged the tune which originates from a 15th Century German folk melody, Bresiau. Felix Mendelssohn wrote a choral arrangement based on Bresiau in his 1836 oratorio, St. Paul. Simplified versions of this melody are frequently used with the hymn version.

Sir Henry Baker, an English hymn writer, edited Take Up Thy Cross, The Saviour Said for inclusion in the Church of England’s Hymns Ancient and Modern Hymnal. Making it one of only two American hymns to find itself into the first edition of this hymnal. Baker added an additional verse and made a number of alterations to Everest text. This is the version better known and published in most hymnals today.

The hymn is commonly sung in many churches on Good Friday.






The tune for Take Up thy Cross the Savior Said is based on an old German folk tune #hymnstory Share on X


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