George Bernard was born Feb. 6. 1873 in Youngstown Ohio, but grew up in Iowa, where his parents moved to when he was quite young. He attended a Salvation Army revival in Locus Iowa at the age of fifteen, just after his father's death and, at that time he made a personal commitment to Christ. At the age of sixteen he went to work in a coal mine as his father did, to support his mother and four sisters, until 1897 when he married his first wife and began his ministry in the Salvation Army. He served along with his wife as an officer in this Organization for 8 years, traveling through the Midwest and New York. In 1910, they left the Organization, and he became an Ordained Methodist evangelist.
Bernard wrote many hymns, but his most famous took a long time to complete. His first attempt
Resulted in the first 10 words, "On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross". He had the Melody in his mind, but had difficulty with getting the words to come to mind. He read many books and studied the bible in depth, the final inspiration came to him at a revival he held in Albion Mi. Where a bunch of young people laughed at him and called him names, he was later quoted him saying, "It was then that I could seem to see Jesus and the cross, and it was through John, 3:16 words leaped from the pages and acted out the meaning of redemption. He returned to his apartment and was able to finish the first verse.
His next revival was at Pokagon Mi. Where he stayed with his friend Rev. Bostwick who had called him to come and help him with an old time revival. Rev. Bernard took the unfinished Hymn with him and in his spare time, "picked out the melody on his old guitar hitting a few notes and then writing a few words. In his spare time, he repeated it over and over and, from time to time he would appear in the doorway of the kitchen to ask "How does this sound Sister Bostwick?" She would suggest something, and she would make some changes, and he felt like she had a part in the song.
One evening as Mr. Bostwick was preparing the even meal, Rev. Bernard told them that he had finished his song, and he sat down with his guitar and sung it for them and after a short silence, Mrs. Bootlick assured him "that his song would be enjoyed by congregations everywhere". That night in 1913 Rev. Bernard at the revival sang his song, and from the penciled notes the choir sang it, accompanied by at least one violin and the organ. The Bootlicks asked Rev. Bernard for the privilege of paying for the printing plates in return for the first edition; members of the choir also received the first edition. In 1933 an article announced all the names of the choir and musicians.
Rev. Bernard sold the rights to "The Old Rugged Cross" to the Homer A Rodeheaver Co, of Winora Lake Ind. for a small amount of money. The song was soon formally introduced at the Chicago Evangelistic institute before a large convention, and it became the most beloved Hymn in the United States.
To day the church has been restored and to it original state, and to the History books of the Pokagon, Mi.
Witten by Jay w, a few years ago.
HISTORY OF THE OLD RUGGED