Posted by: rcottrill | July 14, 2010

Today in 1800 – Matthew Bridges Born

Matthew Bridges was raised in the Church of England. Critical of the Roman Catholic Church, he even wrote a book against its teaching. But Bridges was drawn into the Oxford Movement, and eventually followed John Henry Newman and others into the Church of Rome. The latter years of his life were spent in Quebec, Canada. In the past, some suggested that he died there, but it seems he returned to England before his death in 1894.

The hymn for which Matthew Bridges is known, written in 1851, is the great worship hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns. The hymn is based on the description given in the book of Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ at His triumphant return. There John says, “On His head were many crowns” (Rev. 19:12). Bridges developed that thought and built his hymn around a series of descriptive titles for Christ: “Crown Him the virgin’s Son,” “Crown Him the Lord of love,” “Crown Him the Lord of peace,” and so on.

In 1864, Anglican clergyman Godfrey Thring took some of Bridges’ hymn and combined it with stanzas of his own. He was asked to do this as there were some parts of Bridges’ poetry that raised objections doctrinally for Protestants. “Crown Him the Son of God,” and “Crown Him the Lord of life” are two stanzas from Thring’s pen. What we have in most hymnals today is a combination of the work of the two men. The result is a stirring hymn of worship.

Notice, in the second of two of Bridges’ stanzas below, the thought expressed that we will still see the wounds of Calvary on the glorified body of Christ in eternity. There is some evidence to suggest this will be so. Thomas said he would not believe the Lord had risen from the dead unless he could “see in His hands the print of the nails, and put [his] finger into the print of the nails, and put [his] hand into His side.” And the Lord Jesus invited him to do just that (Jn. 20:24-27). Later, in his vision of heaven, John saw in the midst of the throne of God “A Lamb as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).

In that realm of infinite perfection, when all the saints have been clothed in glorified, resurrection bodies, do you expect your body to retain the scars and imperfections of earth? I don’t! Yet apparently there will be one jarring exception to that, the scars in the hands and feet and side of Jesus. But far from being distracting and repellent, those wounds will be, for us, heaven’s most beautiful sight. Why? Because of the richness of their meaning.  Because they will be eternal evidence of God’s matchless love, and of what He sacrificed to save us.

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,
Rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wondering eye at mysteries so bright.

There are many versions of this great hymn posted on YouTube (good, bad and indifferent!). In searching through them, I found some that made me cringe–syncopated renditions, sung in a crooning, sexy way more suited to a sensual love song. And one that illustrates a pet peeve–a dramatic choral arrangement sung while the offering was being taken. What? Do we not have enough time for both? Must we worry about paying the bills while trying to revel in the majesty of the Lord? (Yes, I know: offering our gifts to Him should be an act of worship. But realizing that is so, does it not deserve a place of its own?)

(2) You May Have the Joybells (Data Missing)
I can remember singing You May Have the Joybells as a boy, many years ago. This happy gospel song was written by J. Edwin Ruark (1849-1914), with the tune provided by busy songsmith William Kirkpatrick. As far as I know, it is the only song Ruark wrote, and we know nothing more about him.

You may have the joy-bells ringing in your heart,
And a peace that from you never will depart;
Walk the straight and narrow way,
Live for Jesus ev’ry day,
He will keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

Joy-bells ringing in your heart,
Joy-bells ringing in your heart;
Take the Saviour here below
With you ev’rywhere you go;
He will keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

You will meet with trials as you journey home;
Grace sufficient He will give to overcome;
Though unseen by mortal eye,
He is with you ever nigh,
And He’ll keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

Let your life speak well of Jesus ev’ry day;
Own His right to ev’ry service you can pay;
Sinners you can help to win
If your life is pure and clean,
And you keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.


  1. […] Thring also added several stanzas to Matthew Bridges hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns (see Today in 1800). Thring […]

  2. […] We use it with the hymn Come, Ye Thankful People, Come. His tune Diademata is used with the hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns. (For another example of a hymn for which Mr. Elvey wrote a tune, see the second item under Today […]

  3. “Crown Him With Many Crowns”: My favorite verse (and hard to find) is

    Crown Him the Lord of Years,
    The Potentate of Time;
    Creator of the rolling spheres,
    Ineffably sublime . . .

    • Yes, terrific. The Cyber Hymnal has all nine stanzas.

      • Cyber hymnal (now called nethymnal) doesn’t give the author for verses 7 & 8. Do you happen to know who wrote them?

      • Yes, I can help you with that one. Matthew Bridges wrote the original hymn. But Bridges was a Roman Catholic, and some of the sentiments of his hymn fit that persuasion. When the hymn, great as it is, was adopted for Protestant use, Godfrey Thring omitted some of Bridges’ stanzas and added some of his own. It gets even trickier, because in some hymnals there are stanzas that combine lines from both men!

        However, having said that, stanza 7, “Crown Him the Lord of heav’n,” is from the original hymn by Matthew Bridges. Stanza 8, “Crown Him the Lord of lords,” was written by Godfrey Thring. So, now you know! 🙂

        I do want to add a comment about your statement concerning the Cyber Hymnal. It is not “now called nethymnal.” I have been working with the editor of the original Cyber Hymnal, Dick Adams, for about 15 years, supplying information on hymns as needed. (Dick now has over 8,300 hymns on his wonderful site.) But a few years ago, someone came along and simply helped himself to all of Dick’s research–without asking his permission, or giving any credit for his years of work!

        Dick has copyrighted the name, Cyber Hymnal, but he had to adopt a new URL. You can go to the real Cyber Hymnal here. And I encourage you to use that site. You can tell the difference immediately. The plagerized version is simply loaded with advertising–some I’ve seen that’s not very appropriate. Dick Adams’ Cyber Hymnal contains no advertising at all.

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns (Bridges) Wordwise Hymns (Thring) The Cyber […]

    • Thank you for the information about the hymn. Also thank you for the information about Cyber Hymnal. At one time, a link that I had saved to Cyber Hymnal directed me to net hymnal, and since they look similar (though I do think the real Cyber Hymnal is easier to use) I assumed it was just a case of a name change. From now on I will use the real thing. Thank you.

  5. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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