George Bennard

George Bennard

Born: Feb­ru­ary 4, 1873, Youngs­town, Ohio.
Died: Oc­to­ber 10, 1958, Reed Ci­ty, Mi­chi­gan.
Buried: In­gle­wood Park Ce­me­te­ry, In­gle­wood, Ca­li­for­nia.

Hymns by George Bennard

From Mines to Melodies: The Story of George Bennard

The story of George Bennard, the man behind the beloved hymn “The Old Rugged Cross,” is one woven with trials, perseverance, and ultimate triumph.

A Childhood Interrupted

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1873, Bennard’s early life was marked by carefree days and childhood innocence. But when his father passed away, the mantle of family provider fell on young Bennard’s shoulders. He traded playgrounds for coal mines, descending into the dark depths to ensure his family’s survival. It was a heavy burden for a child to bear, but Bennard’s strength and determination carried him through.

Blessings in Disguise

Years passed, and Bennard’s prayers for deliverance from the mines were finally answered. Love, purpose, and faith entered his life in rapid succession. He married his beloved Ariminda, found employment with the Salvation Army, and most importantly, gave his heart to Christ. It seemed that God was eager to bless the man who had so selflessly sacrificed for others.

The Birth of a Hymn

As Bennard stepped into ministry, he discovered a new passion: writing hymns. Melodies and verses flowed from his pen, but one song in particular would prove to be his magnum opus. In the quiet town of Albion, Michigan, a simple tune took root in Bennard’s mind. But the lyrics, like elusive fireflies, danced just out of reach.

For months, Bennard grappled with the song, unable to find the words to match the melody. All he could settle on was a single line: “I will cherish the old rugged cross.” It wasn’t until a preaching tour across Michigan, where Bennard’s appreciation for Christ’s sacrifice was rekindled, that the lyrics finally fell into place. With renewed inspiration, he penned the words that would touch hearts for generations to come.

A Legacy of Perseverance

The birth of “The Old Rugged Cross” is a testament to Bennard’s unwavering spirit. Just as he persevered in the coal mines for the sake of his family, he pressed on in crafting this hymn, refusing to let a moment of divine inspiration slip away. And because of his faithfulness, countless souls have been stirred by the simple, profound message of the cross.

Though George Bennard’s life was marked by hardship and struggle, his legacy is one of hope and triumph. In the enduring strains of “The Old Rugged Cross,” we hear the voice of a man who discovered that life’s greatest treasures often lie on the other side of our greatest trials. May his story inspire us to persevere, to trust, and to cherish the old rugged cross, where our Savior’s love conquered all.

Don Chapman

Don Chapman

Composer/arranger Don Chapman has created HYMNDEX as a labor of love to help new generations learn about the lives, legacies and lyrics of historic hymn writers.