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Video: American Idol Judge Harry Connick Jr Sings Soulful "The Old Rugged Cross"

Zelda Caldwell - published on 03/21/15

Testifies to his Catholic faith on and off the show

Three-time Grammy winning jazz singer and American Idol Judge Harry Connick, Jr. is not shy about sharing his Catholic faith in music and in his role as judge of the popular television show.

Here, lucky parishoners at the Agape House Fellowship Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, were treated to a special guest, as Connick performs the gospel hymn “Old Rugged Cross.”

The singer talked about his faith recently in an interview with Catholic Vote. In response to a question about how faith helps performers deal with the pressures  of the music industry, he said:

“To me, I’m Catholic, so it’s important to me. It does what it’s supposed to do for me, so I’m glad to have it.”



Asked about his pre-performance prayer ritual, Connick said, “We say a prayer every night, me and my band. My guitar player, Jonathan [DuBose Jr.], he’s a
reverend in his own church, so believe you me, I’m not going to pray in front of him. I let him do all the praying.”


On a recent American Idol show, Connick joked about needing to go to Confession after seeing a New Agey “sound healer" who talked of chakras and chanting. Connick said, “"I feel guilty and unclean. Like I need to go to confession or something."

Connick is not the lone Catholic on American Idol this season.  Patheos blogger Tony Rossi reports:

This year’s panel is a first in more ways than one. Not only have Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. never worked together before, but they’re also the first panel that is predominantly Catholic – or at least has had Catholic influences in its past.


 Here are the lyrics to “Old Rugged Cross,” written by evangelist George Bennard in 1912:

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain

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.
O 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.

Refrain

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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