Words: William Emmanual Booth-Clibborn [b. Aug. 4, 1893; d. Aug. ___, 1969)
Music: O Sole Mio, by Eduardo di Capua (b. May 12, 1865; d. Oct. 3, 1917)
Note: William Booth-Clibborn was the grandson of Salvation Army founder, William Booth. Eduardo di Capua was a nineteenth century singer and composer, who was born and died in Naples, Italy. His most famous melody was that for O Sole Mio (literally, “Oh My Sunshine”–a romantic tribute to the object of the singer’s love). It was recorded by many great singers, including Enrico Caruso, in the early days of the recording industry. The tune was arranged for the present hymn in 1921.
Though this fine hymn may work best as a solo, rather than a congregational number, it would be interesting to try it as the latter. It provides a fine interpretation and explanation of Philippians 2:5-11, which says, that God the Son “did not consider it robbery [a thing to be clutched and clung to, as a miser would his gold] to be equal with God”…
“But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (vs. 7-8).
CH-1. He came from heaven’s glory, where all the prerogatives of deity were His. Dwelling in glorious light from all eternity, surrounded by worshiping angels, He willingly set aside such things to come to earth. Though the Creator of all (Jn. 1:3), He came to die for our sins, came to be our Saviour.
Both because of who Christ is, and because of what He has done for us, He is worthy of our praise and worship (Refrain).
CH-1. He was born in a manger, and “to His own a stranger.” That was true in a general way. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1:11). Yet there was a believing remnant who did recognize and receive Him. On the basis of prophetic insight, Simeon did, and so did Anna (Lk. 2:25-38). Even some Persian magi (wise men) owned Him as King, and came to worship Him (Matt. 2:1-2).
CH-1) Down from His glory, ever living story,
My God and Saviour came, and Jesus was His name.
Born in a manger, to His own a stranger,
A man of sorrows, tears and agony.
O how I love Him! How I adore Him!
My breath, my sunshine, my all in all.
The great Creator became my Saviour,
And all God’s fullness dwelleth in Him.
CH-2. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), and since we were, as sinners, “without strength” to save ourselves (Rom. 5:6), we had, in the words of Booth-Clibborn, “not one faint hope in sight.” But in our extremity, the Lord Jesus Christ came, “stooping to woo, to win, to save my soul.” Not only was the saving work done at Calvary, the Lord continues to extend an invitation for the needy to come to Him, or open the door to Him (Matt. 11:28; Rev. 3:20).
CH-3. Christ came to save us “without reluctance.” When the Son came to earth, He willingly submitted Himself to His Father. He declared, “Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God” (Heb. 10:7). When He finally came to face the cross, there was a repelling abhorrence to what lay ahead. Yet He was fully submissive to the Father’s will. We see that in Gethsemane:
“He…fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’” (Matt. 26:39).
But it is going much too far to say, as I heard a Bible teacher say recently, that there was “a battle of the wills” between God the Father and God the Son, in Gethsemane. That makes it sound as though they argued (“Do it!…No I won’t!…Yes You will!”) Such a notion is ridiculous.
To say, as Booth-Clibborn does that Christ is “the great ‘I AM,’” is to affirm His deity. Jehovah God revealed His name to Moses at the burning bush. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exod. 3:14). When the Lord Jesus took that “I AM” name to Himself (Jn. 8:58), His enemies knew well what it meant (vs. 59; cf. Jn. 10:33)
It is indeed a “glorious mystery,” that God the Son could take on our humanity, through a work of the Holy Spirit, and the miracle of the virgin birth (Matt. 1:20; Lk. 1:34-35). And that He could become Man and yet remain fully God (Col. 2:9) is a truth beyond our comprehension.
CH-3) Without reluctance, flesh and blood His substance,
He took the form of man, revealed the hidden plan,
O glorious mystery, sacrifice of Calv’ry,
And now I know Thou art the great “I Am.”
1) Why was it necessary for Christ to be both fully Man and fully God, to provide for our salvation?
2) What other hymns come to mind that affirm the deity of Christ?