In the Cross of Christ I Glory

In-the-Cross-of-Christ-I-Glory

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me;
Lo, it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

220px-Sir_John_BowringThere are intriguing stories about the writers of both the lyrics and the melody of this old hymn. It is said, but not confirmed, that Englishman John Bowring was inspired to write the words when he observed a destroyed cathedral in Macao, Hong Kong area, where he was at one time the governor. Only the front wall was still standing, topped by a large metal cross, blackened with age. This is similar to the finding of a cross-shaped metal beam in the ruins of the World Trade Centre, which people used as a makeshift place of worship.

The story behind the composition of the melody, named Rathbun , has been verified. Ithamar Conkey was the organist at Central Baptist Church in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1849. The pastor had been preaching a series of sermons on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross. One rainy Sunday, only one choir member arrived, much to Conkey’s disappointment. He was so keenly discouraged that after he had played the prelude, he closed the organ and went home, unnoticed by the congregation. Sitting at his piano, he contemplated the pastor’s sermons as well as the words of the above hymn. He then composed what was a new tune, and called it Rathbun . The reason for this title? The name of the only loyal choir member who had shown up that Sunday was Beriah S. Rathbun!

WORDS: JOHN BOWRING; MUSIC: ITHAMAR CONKEY
S.A. SONG BOOK, 1987 EDITION, #112; 2015 EDITION, #174
REFERENCES: USAWEST.ORG
MORGAN, ROBERT J., THEN SINGS MY SOUL

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