William R. Newell was an evangelist Bible teacher and assistant superintendent at Moody Bible Institute.
One day on his way to teach a class, he started meditating on Christ’s suffering at Calvary and all that it meant. So he steps into an empty classroom and scribbled a hymn on the back of an envelope .
On that day in 1895, minutes later, he shows this hymn to the music director, Daniel B. Towner. One hour later, they had the hymn title, “At Calvary.”
It is a wonderful hymn, but if you think about it maybe one small word would make a big difference.
Replace by with at.
Our salvation today comes by Christ’s work on Calvary’s cross; however, salvation was not made known at the time of Calvary’s cross as Paul later revealed in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8.
So now when you sing the chorus of this wonderful hymn, it has much more meaning with the change of one word.
“Merry there was great and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdened soul found liberty