Music for the Reign of Christ the King — November 26, 2023

Crown Him with Many Crowns – Text: Matthew Bridges (1800-1994) and Godfrey Thring (1823-1903) / Music: George Job Elvey (1816-1893)

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Our offertory hymn this Sunday in church declares that we are to crown our Lord with many crowns; each crown represents a different aspect of who Christ is—Lord of life, Lord of peace, Lord of love, the Lamb upon the throne. The original text of Crown Him with Many Crowns was written by Matthew Bridges (1800-1894) and published in 1851. Another text was written by Godfrey Thring (1823-1903), who wrote, “The greater part of this hymn was originally written at the request of the Reverend H. W. Hutton, to supply the place of some of the stanzas in Matthew Bridges’ well-known hymn, of which he and others did not approve.” Thring’s original second verse is now commonly paired with Bridges’ original stanzas. Almost no two hymnals include exactly the same arrangement of phrases or number/order of verses.

The tune Diademata was written by George Job Elvey (1816-1893) to these words for the 1868 supplement to Hymns Ancient & Modern; the tune name is the Greek work for “crowns.” Elvey was educated at New College, Oxford, and in 1835 was appointed Organist & Choirmaster at St. George’s, Windsor. Queen Victoria conferred on him the honour of knighthood in 1893. His compositions were chiefly for the church, although he also wrote some oratorios and incidental music.

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne:
hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing of him
who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
whose wounds yet visible above
in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
can fully bear the sight,
but downward bends his burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

Crown him the Lord of peace,
whose power a sceptre sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease,
absorbed in prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end;
and round his pierced feet
fair flowers of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.

Gerald Harder