Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.

Refrain

Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.

Refrain

Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!

Refrain

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!

Refrain

At Calvary, words by William Reed Newell, music by Daniel Brink Towner

Have you ever gotten so accustomed to a song that the words no longer impact you, but then, one day, they suddenly do? Look at these words, and try to divorce them from the meter and the music.

William Reed Newell

William Reed Newell, 1868-1956

Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified; knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary. By God’s Word at last my sin I learned. Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, till my guilty soul, imploring, turned to Calvary.

The church is always one generation away from disappearing entirely. We have a society now where it’s counter-cultural to be a Christian, where it runs against the grain to even think that there’s something inherently wrong with us. But in this song, we acknowledge that we came to the realization that there is something very, very wrong about our desires, our thoughts, our words, and our actions. That something is what we call sin.

Maybe you didn’t spend years living only for yourself. Maybe you were lucky enough to have been steeped in a home that revolved around Jesus. But all of us need Him. And for that reason, He went to Calvary. There, His body hung. There, He died. And there, we can turn in our guilt. And there, He absolves us.


Now, I’ve given to Jesus everything. Now, I gladly own Him as my King. Now, my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary! Oh, the love that drew Salvation’s plan! Oh, the grace that brought it down to man! Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary! Mercy there was great, and grace was free. Pardon there was multiplied to me. There, my burdened soul found liberty: At Calvary!

Daniel Brink Towner

Daniel Brink Towner, 1850-1919

Drinks are commonly used in celebrations. At weddings, the bride and groom drink with interlocked arms. We offer toasts for auspicious occasions. And so it is here. In the fruit of the vine, we see the blood that lets us pledge our allegiance to Christ, that enraptures our souls, that gives us mercy, grace, pardon, and liberty.