April Hymn: "Crown Him with Many Crowns"
“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.” (Revelation 19:12)
It was this verse from Revelation 19 that Matthew Bridges, the original author of this month’s hymn, based his text on. Bridges, once a disbeliever in Roman Catholic theology, changed his views later in life and converted to Catholicism. This hymn, written in 1852, is a product of his then newfound religious beliefs.
There were originally six stanzas written by Bridges. As it was, Godfrey Thring, an Anglican clergyman, was extremely concerned with the Catholic theology presented in the text, since it was being sung widely in Protestant churches. Thring took it upon himself to write an additional six verses for Bridges’s work in 1874. It’s no surprise that the twelve verses became intermixed over time and tradition. Most commonly the two texts are balanced evenly with three of Bridge’s verses and three of Thring’s verses creating a whole. In our hymnal, Bridge’s lyrics appear as verse 1 and 3, and Thring’s are verses 2 and 4.
Diademata is the most commonly used tune for this text. George J. Elvey composed it in 1868 specifically for the text that Bridges penned. It received its name from a translation of Revelation 19:12 which substitutes the word ‘crowns’ for the Greek word ‘diademata,’ meaning ‘diadems.’ Notably, Elvey also wrote the tune for “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” which is still popular today.
This song reminds us of the Kingship of Christ – a fitting text given our current sermon series titled “Jesus: King of Heaven and Earth.” The imagery is rich in royal language. Each verse, while elaborating a separate facet of Christ’s lordship, also points specifically to the cross and the death of Christ as the vehicle of salvation for our souls. Especially as we continue to reflect on the death and resurrection of Christ in this Easter season, let us soak in the truth of this hymn and truly believe in the once and for all victory of Christ. He reigns forever!
Crown Him with Many Crowns (No. 92 in The Worshiping Church)
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 life, who triumphed o'er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save;
His glories now we sing who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.
Crown Him the Lord of love; behold His hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified;
no angels in the sky can fully bear that sight,
but downward bend their burning eyes at mysteries so bright.
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.