Most Christian worshipers have heard or sung the classic hymn "The Old Rugged Cross" at church. It was written in late 1912 in Albion by traveling Methodist evangelist George Bennard and stems from the emotions of embarrassment and shame.

Bennard was responding to harsh criticism during revivals he had performed at while touring the country and began to pen the tune and lyrics at the home of a professor he and his wife were staying with near Albion College. The song was performed for the first time during the summer of 1913 at a church in Cass County. During the 1920s and 1930s, the hymn increasingly gained popularity and was appearing in hymnals across several church denominations. The hymn eventually became a country gospel favorite in the early 1950s and to this day has been recorded and performed by dozens of famous country musicians. 

Bennard did not become rich from the hymn despite its success. He reportedly sold the rights to it for $500 before its widespread popularity. Despite writing several other worship songs, he never again achieved the heights of "The Old Rugged Cross". He was a "one hit wonder" hymn writer, but not to some. Bennard was mistakenly introduced during his evangelical travels as the author of several other famous hymns which he did not write.

A Michigan Historical Marker is located at 1101 Michigan Avenue in Albion where George Bennard etched his famous tune.

"The Old Rugged Cross" - George Bennard - Albion, Michigan (1912)

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross

The emblem of suff'ring and shame

And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best

For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it some day for a crown

Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world

Has a wondrous attraction for me

For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above

To bear it to dark Calvary

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it some day for a crown

In the old rugged Cross, stain'd with blood so divine

A wondrous beauty I see

For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above

To pardon and sanctify me

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it some day for a crown

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true

Its shame and reproach gladly bear

Then He'll call me some day to my home far away

Where His glory forever I'll share

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it some day for a crown