Posted by: rcottrill | September 15, 2014

The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns

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Words: Thomas Kelly (b. July 13, 1769; d. May 14, 1855)
Music: St. Magnus, attributed to Jeremiah Clark (b. _____, 1659; d. Dec. 1, 1707)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune was named for St. Magnus Martyr Church, situated near the old London Bridge in that city. It is probably by Jeremiah Clark, the organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral and music-master to Queen Anne.

Thomas Kelly’s great 1820 hymn, in six stanzas, was based largely on a passage in Hebrews, though CH-5 seems to make reference also to II Timothy 2:12, “If we endure [persevere], we shall also reign with Him.” The verses in Hebrews say:

We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:9-10).

Angels are immortal and cannot die. But man, at least in his present sphere, is subject to death. In order to die for our sins, Christ had to fully identify with us, even unto death. “Perfect through sufferings,” of course, cannot mean that Christ was before that morally deficient. He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (I Pet. 2:22; cf. II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26). The statement means that Christ, through His suffering became a perfected, or perfectly adequate “Captain” (Author, Originator) of salvation. By His death, the Lord Jesus be an abundantly sufficient Saviour.

“He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).

CH-1) The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty victor’s brow.

CH-2) The highest place that heav’n affords
Belongs to Him by right;
The King of kings and Lord of lords,
And heaven’s eternal Light.

It has been noted that Kelly must have been familiar with the writings of John Bunyan, as his first stanza echoes the latter’s “One Thing Is Needful (published around 1664).” Bunyan wrote:

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Shall now with glory shine;
The heart that broken was with scorns
Shall flow with life divine.

To those who love the Lord, both in heaven above and on earth below, He is a profound source of joy. “Believing, [we] rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8).

CH-3) The joy of all who dwell above,
The joy of all below,
To whom He manifests His love,
And grants His name to know.

CH-4) To them the cross with all its shame,
With all its grace, is given;
Their name an everlasting name,
Their joy the joy of heaven.

Though humanly speaking we would shrink from suffering, yet we understand that it is inevitable for Christians living in a godless world (II Tim. 3:12). “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).

CH-5) They suffer with their Lord below;
They reign with Him above;
Their profit and their joy to know
The mystery of His love.

CH-6) The cross He bore is life and health,
Though shame and death to Him,
His people’s hope, His people’s wealth,
Their everlasting theme.

1) What are some of the contrasts between how Christ was treated on earth, and how He is treated in heaven?

2) What is “the joy of heaven”?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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