Posted by: rcottrill | November 9, 2011

Lord of Life and King of Glory

Words: Christian Burke (b. Sept. 18, 1859; d. _____, 1944)
Music: Calvary (or Stanley), by Samuel Stanley (b. _____, 1767; d. Oct. 29, 1822)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: I almost hesitate to call this a little-known hymn, since I’m bound to get a comment on the blog to the effect that it is well known, at least in some circles. But I doubt that many in the churches I’m familiar with would know it. This is unfortunate. It is a wonderful Mother’s Day hymn–and could be used at other times too.

God has ordained that the human family be increased through the “one flesh” relationship of husband and wife (Gen. 1:28), and this has invested motherhood with a unique privilege and responsibility. We are to honour and obey our mothers (Eph. 6:1-2). The Lord Jesus, on the cross, set the example of providing lovingly for His mother Mary.

The fall brought God’s curse upon creation, which includes greater frequency and pain in childbirth (Gen. 3:16). However, a great honour was bestowed upon motherhood, that one day a woman would bear the Saviour, the One who would crush the serpent (Satan) and bring redemption (Gen. 1:15). This was fulfilled in the virgin birth of Christ (Isa. 7:14; cf. Matt. 1:18-23).

Mary’s cousin Elizabeth proclaimed her “blessed…among women,” because of the Baby in her womb (Lk. 1:42), and Mary herself rejoiced (Lk. 1:46-47). In spite of the difficulties of childbirth, it is a wonder in which women rejoice. As the Lord said, “A woman, when she is in labour, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (Jn. 16:21).

CH-1) Lord of life and King of glory,
Who didst deign a child to be,
Cradled on a mother’s bosom,
Throned upon a mother’s knee:
For the children Thou hast given
We must answer unto Thee!

CH-2) Since the day the blessèd mother
Thee, the world’s Redeemer, bore,
Thou hast crowned us with an honour
Women never knew before;
And that we may bear it meetly
We must seek Thine aid the more.

This fine hymn puts an emphasis on mothers dedicating themselves to a high standard for themselves and their work, by the grace of God. There is a recognition that “we must answer unto Thee” (CH-1), and “we must seek Thine aid the more” (CH-2), for purity of heart, patience, and setting a good example (CH-3). For “deeper insight,” as children grow older, and “new powers of sacrifice,” for “hope to trust them,” and “faith to guide them” (CH-4).

CH-5) May we keep our holy calling
Stainless in its fair renown,
That when all the work is over
And we lay the burdens down,
Then the children Thou hast given
Still may be our joy and crown.

The hope of Christian mothers is that their children “may be our joy and crown.” Both Paul and John express a similar sentiment with regard to those to whom they minister. John says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my [spiritual] children walk in the truth” (III Jn. 1:4). And Paul writes to the Thessalonian Christians, “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (I Thess. 2:19-20).

1) In your view, what are the most important qualities needed by a mother to be successful?

2) What mother in the Bible has taught you the most, by her experience? (And how?)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Funny, I found this hymn in 4 different hymnals (I have about 45 plus many songbooks) but none of them used the tune Calvary (Stanley). 3 used the Silesian Mariner’s Hymn from Tattersall’s Psalmody and the fourth used the Swedish folk melody Sionstoner.

    • Well now! The answer to your implied question about the use of the tune Calvary is that I simply don’t know.Having written well over a thousand articles on hymns, it’s sometimes hard to remember. But I checked a few resources, and you’re quite right. Sicilian Mariners’ Hymn seems to be the most common tune used. And it’s more singable than the one given.

      I’m glad you asked the question about the “CH” before the stanzas of hymns quoted. It is explained in the box at the beginning of pages This Blog and Hymn Index (see tabs), but I’m sure others are wondering. You’ll notice that each hymn post this year is linked to the Cyber Hymnal. Dick Adams began building that site in 1996, and I’ve been able to assist him in tracking down information–especially in the early years. Dick has tried to include all the stanzas of the 8,600 hymns he’s posted, and I’ve used his website as a common reference to which all can have access. Hymn books vary as to the stanzas they include, so to make things simple I’ve labeled the stanzas “CH”, meaning that’s how they’re numbered in Cyber Hymnal.

      And incidentally, I see that the “CH” uses the tune Calvary for Lord of Life and King of Glory. (I’ve dropped Dick an e-mail to ask why.) God bless.

  2. Oops, that should have read “from Sionstroner.” A little research revealed that Sionstroner is the name of a Swedish hymnal. The tune is actually called TILLFLYKT. Not a very commonly used tune, but a beautiful one.


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