Wednesday, December 7, 2016
In 1913, George Bennard was struggling with a problem that caused him much suffering. His mind was focused on Christ's anguish at the cross. It was in Albion, Michigan, that he started to write this song, but he struggled for weeks with the words and melody that he wrote. Initially the only words that would come to him were: "I'll cherish the old rugged cross." He was planning church sermons for engagements in New York when he found that the message of the cross was growing stronger and stronger for him. Then he made a second attempt to complete the song. Finally, he finished, then excitedly called his wife and played and sang the completed song over the telephone.
On June 7, 1913 George Bennard introduced the new hymn at the church house in Pokagon, Michigan. "The Old Rugged Cross," soon became one of the most popular hymns of the century. He then continued to travel to churches for forty years. The last years of his life were spent just north of Reed City, Michigan. Today near his home, there still stands a twelve foot high cross bearing the words, "The Old Rugged Cross, Home Of George Bennard, Composer Of This Beloved Hymn".
He died on October 9, 1958. in Reed City, Michigan, at the age of eighty-five, George Bennard's burial and resting place is at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California in Los Angeles County, USA.