Johnny and June Carter Cash perform one of the most popular hymns of all time YouTube

George Bennard is widely known as the evangelist songwriter of “The Old Rugged Cross” but three towns — Albion, Mich., Pokagon, Mich., and Sturgeon Bay, Wis., all claim to be its birthplace.

Regardless of where it was written, the message of faith is one that has endured over a century and has been embraced by nearly all religions.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross

Till my trophies at last I’ll lay down

I will cling to the old rugged cross

And exchange it someday for a crown

These lyrics have been sung by some of the most important recording artists of the 20th century including Al Green, Anne Murray, Patsy Cline, George Jones, Vince Gill and John Prine. While all have turned in remarkable renditions, Johnny Cash’s versions seem to stand out from the rest.

The Man in Black was such a fan of this traditional hymn that he included it on three albums — “Sings Precious Memories,” “Sings With the Goodpasture BC Christian School” and “Believe in Him” (on which he recorded the tune as a duet with Jessi Colter).

But this performance with June Carter Cash just has to be one of our all-time favorites.

Based in Chicago but often in Nashville, Ken Churilla is a contributor for Rare Country. Follow him @KenChurilla and join the conversation @RareCountry.
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