Cross my heart and hope to die?

We’ve probably all heard the saying “cross my heart and hope to die” – but what does it mean?

I don’t know, and a cursory search didn’t turn up more than a poem of uncertain age or origin.

But I was thinking, “cross my heart and hope to die” is really quite a hopeful, meaning-filled phrase for the Christian. I see some serious deeper thoughts, aside from the Catholic act of “crossing oneself,” encoded in the phrase. 

Now, we’re supposed to “set our eyes on Christ” and to keep our focus on The Cross (Heb 12:2, Phil 3:14), and we’re to take up our own and follow Him (Luke 9:23). So I’m to have the “cross [on] my heart.”

Next, well, our hope really is in death, in a few senses. Our ultimate hope is in Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are also to “die daily” (1 Cor 15:31) – dying to our flesh and sin. Finally, our hope in our own physical death, when we’ll finally be with God (Phil 1:21-23), “see face to face” (1 Cor 13:12), and have perfect resurrected bodies, unstained and free from sin (1 Cor 15).

I’m sure one could pull more out of it, but from now on I’m going to think differently when I hear the phrase.

If anyone knows some specific history or origins, please let me know!

Out of interest, for anyone who cares, here’s the poem I found:

I found it as an answer to a Yahoo Answers question, claiming that the phrase “originated as a religious oath based on the sign of the cross in the early 1900s.”

“cross my heart
and hope to die
stick a needle in my eye
wait a moment,
i spoke a lie
i never really
wanted to die.
but if i may
and if i might
my heart is open
for tonight
though my lips are sealed
and a promise is true
i won’t break my word
my word to you.

cross my heart
hope to die
stick a needle in my eye.
a secret’s a secret
my word is forever
i will tell no one
about your cruel endeavor.
you claim no pain
but i see right through
your words in
everything you do.
teary eyes
broken heart
life has torn
you apart

cross my heart
hope to die
stick a needle in my eye
i loved you then
i love you now
i’ll still love you
though i’ll break my vow.
i can’t hold this secret
any longer
it’s hurting you
not making you stronger.
you’re my friend
so i’ll risk your respect
by hurting you
i can protect
i’ll save yourself
since you will not
you might hate me
but i’ll give it a shot.
i’m willing to risk
our bond that we own
so long as you’re safe
you won’t be alone.

cross my heart
hope to die
stick a needle in my eye
break my promise
tell a lie
save my friend
though, maybe it’s ‘bye.'”


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