A hymn, a story, and a challenge

     In 1851 Matthew Bridges wrote the original version of the hymn "Crown Him With Many Crowns". This is a familiar hymn to many, though it is doubtful you've ever sung the original six verses as written by Bridges. In 1874 Godfrey Thring (what a name!) undertook to write six new verses in order to preserve the beloved song but excise what he saw as problematic Catholic theology. You have likely never sung Thring's version of Crown Him With Many Crowns either. Most hymnals at any of your local churches or, if you're like me, on your bookshelf have some Frankensteining of the song going on, usually with three verses from one author, two and a half from another, and a slapped-on wrap-it-up half-stanza devised by some editor or another.

     I recently decided to memorize all twelve verses as originally written, for my own edification, even though I will never get the chance to sing them all at once in any church service. Allow me to share with you the original hymn as written by Bridges:

Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! how the heavenly anthems 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 Virgin’s Son!
The God Incarnate born,—
Whose arm those crimson trophies won
Which now His brow adorn!
Fruit of the mystic Rose
As of that Rose the Stem:
The Root, whence mercy ever flows,—
The Babe of Bethlehem!

Crown Him the Lord of peace!
Whose power a scepter sways,
From pole to pole,—that wars may cease,
Absorbed in prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.

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 burning eye
At mysteries so bright!

Crown Him the Lord of years!
The Potentate of time,—
Creator of the rolling spheres,
Ineffably sublime!
Glassed in a sea of light,
Where everlasting waves
Reflect His throne,—the Infinite!
Who lives,—and loves—and saves.

Crown Him the Lord of heaven!
One with the Father known,—
And the blest Spirit, through Him given
From yonder triune throne!
All hail! Redeemer,—Hail!
For Thou hast died for me;
Thy praise shall never, never fail
Throughout eternity!

And, now, Thring (seriously!):

Crown Him with crowns of gold,
All nations great and small,
Crown Him, ye martyred saints of old,
The Lamb once slain for all;
The Lamb once slain for them
Who bring their praises now,
As jewels for the diadem
That girds His sacred brow.

Crown Him the Son of God
Before the worlds began,
And ye, who tread where He hath trod,
Crown Him the Son of man;
Who every grief hath known
That wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own,
That all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of light,
Who o’er a darkened world
In robes of glory infinite
His fiery flag unfurled.
And bore it raised on high,
In heaven-in earth-beneath,
To all the sign of victory
O’er Satan, sin, and death.

Crown Him the Lord of life
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save;
His glories now we sing
Who died, and rose on high.
Who died, eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him of lords the Lord,
Who over all doth reign
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word,
For ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light,
Where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night,
Their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of heaven,
Enthroned in worlds above;
Crown Him the King, to whom is given
The wondrous name of Love,
Crown Him with many crowns,
As thrones before Him fall.
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns,
For He is King of all.
     Well and good. But, you know, God has an awful lot of attributes. Spheres of authority and deeds for which He deserves those many crowns. Unlike Thring (!) I have no desire to replace Bridges' original lyrics. Nor do I really have a problem with Thring's take on the song. I think it's a terrific template and an opportunity for poetic exercise. So, I challenged two of my more poetically-inclined friends to what I called a "Crown-Off". Here are the rules: 

1. Write six original verses for the hymn Crown Him With Many Crowns
2. Attempt to stay true to the meter and rhyme scheme of the original 
3. Attempt to stay true to the theme and focus of the original
4. Since both Bridges and Thring wrote a stanza beginning with "Crown Him the Lord of Heav'n", and did not overlap in any other lyric, we all three needed to include our own "Lord of Heav'n" stanza among our six, just to really confuse things. 

My friends rose to the occasion, and thus we have eighteen original stanzas to add to the canon, if only amongst our own little circle, the which I am about to present here for several reasons:

1. So that we may have them published and available to sing together when we gather, from far and near, to fellowship and celebrate. Specifically, I was thinking about upcoming Christmas gatherings when I will get to see friends who have moved to various places around the world and whom I typically only see when they're in the area on holiday.

2. So that they may be shared with the Church of God, wherever she may be found, and used in worship, as is our desire concerning all of the hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs we write. (I'm really sorry I have to say this here but, if you do use them, attribute authorship properly. and don't steal credit/profit *sigh*) 

3. So that our hordes of adoring fans can weigh in on our efforts. I'm going to, initially, publish these eighteen stanzas in a randomized order (I rolled 1d20 and went to that one on the list, rinse, repeat). We would like you, friends, family, subscribers/followers, random denizens of the internet, and Phil, to vote on which six of these verses are your favorites. Please vote for up to your top six favorites, either in the comments below or by emailing me directly (for those of you who know me personally). I will be purchasing a prize for whichever of the three of us earns the most votes. As well, while I'm not going to name my cohorts here publicly unless they ask me to, for those of you who know the three of us (or two, or just one, or wanna take a stab in the dark), you are invited to try and assign the stanzas to the author who wrote them. Call us "Y", "P", and "S". One of my fellow authors, three of whose stanzas came in after the deadline, will be punished for his tardiness by providing a prize for the person who gets the most right. Good luck!

1. Crown Him the Lord of Heaven!
All men your hearts employ!
His sight the faith of the forgiven,
His nearness all their joy!
A Sabbath rest remains
for those who will endure
to hymn the King in holy strains
of praise forevermore! 

2. Crown Him the Lord of War,
Who trains His children’s hands,
To wield in prayer His Holy Pow’r,
And set immortal bands.
The army of His claimed,
Eyes closed on bended knee.
Marches forward in His Name,
To certain victory!

3. Crown Him the Bridegroom, fair,
whose promised virgin bride
once purchased, gently now prepared,
will evermore abide
to grace her Husband's head
with all her charms, endowed
by Him who for her virtue bled
with sacred mantle bowed.

4. Crown Him the Living Word
by whom all worlds are wrought;
dividing as a naked sword,
divining heart and thought.
That great Amen shall shake,
shall split the lab'ring Earth,
bend every knee for His Name's sake
to rule by sovereign worth.

5. Crown Him the Lord of Beasts,
that Lion once foretold
to spring from Judah’s loins, the least
and greatest to enfold:
Leviathan He made
to sport upon the sea;
the sparrow He His Father’s aid
doth give, and cares for me.

6. Crown Him the Lord of Earth
established from of old,
whose massive rocks and rolling girth
His Word does yet uphold!
He sends the sun and rain,
He man and beast doth feed,
the elements doth wisely train
to serve them in their need.

7. Crown Him the Lord of Wrath,
His justice rebels' doom.
Vainglorious idols raisèd hath
aroused Him to consume
false flesh and fallen lights
in zeal for His own Name
with everlasting empty night
and never-failing flame.

8. Crown Him the corner-stone
whose covenant endures.
Whose oath relies on Him alone,
and promise reassures
those sons of faith, preserved
'til proved of more than gold;
Salvation, full and undeserved,
His vow from ages old.

9. Crown Him the Lord of Men:
their tribes and peoples all,
who friend or foe shall see Him then
and at His feet shall fall,
when comes He to redress
to all men what is due,
to sit in glorious righteousness
and judge with justice true!

10. Crown Him the Lord of Rest,
Our calm amidst the storm,
The Living Fire inside the breast,
To keep the saint’s heart warm.
The world’s tempest rage,
Cannot prevail our Shield,
A Refuge firm for every Age,
To which all furies yield.

11. Crown Him the Lord of heav'n,
which throne befits His rule;
whence all dominion e'er is giv'n
below, on Earth His stool.
Bless Him, ye priestly race!
His all-authority
ordains the mystery of grace
that crowns His majesty.

12. Crown Him the Righteous Judge!
His justice swift and true.
From those whose hearts grace could not budge,
A recompense is due.
The Cross our hope alone,
We join to Him Who died,
For our sin did our Lord atone,
We rise His justified.

13. Crown Him the Lord of Floods
whose limits He did write,
and quiets them that tenderest buds
may grow to glory bright,
and by the mightiest storms
drives men to mind His will;
He cleanses who humbly reforms;
who thirsts, will more than fill.

14. Crown Him the Lord of Joy,
who rules our Sabbath rest.
All blessings toil in His employ
whose saints, unceasing blest,
lay down their striving vain,
take up the yoke of praise,
ere they by alms of grace attain
delight of endless days.

15. Crown Him the Lord of heaven,
His hands built Creation,
And sustain ‘til the Day is given,
When matter is undone,
Creation sings and yearns,
Deeper than words construe,
Hast’ning the Day that He returns,
And all things are made new.

16. Crown Him the Lord of Truth,
Who knows all that could be,
Omniscient of both all that is,
And all potentially.
His words transcend all time,
Forever resolute,
Sacred, clear, pure, and sublime,
Not subject to refute.

17. Crown Him the Holy King,
Let Israel exult,
Bearing high holy praise to sing,
And two-edged swords to cull.
His vengeance on nations,
The judgment writ made right,
An honor for the godly ones,
Those holy in His sight.

18. Crown Him the Lord of Fire
and Winds, His servants fleet:
they to and fro in gust and gyre
His orders all complete:
to warm the faithful heart,
to stir upon the way,
to prove the hopeful builder’s art
against the coming Day.

     Here's the tune in case anybody needs it: http://nethymnal.org/htm/c/r/crownhim.htm

     Comment. Vote. Share with everybody; invite them to chime in. Add your own verses. At least two of us have additional verses written, half-scratched, or at least thoroughly conceived of which either didn't make the cut or which didn't get finished in time.  We hope you enjoy our efforts.



Far West said...

And after the first 20 or so, the Christmas carolers took a brief break for water and resumed, much to the rising consternation of the home owners that this might not actually have an end.

Anonymous said...

My favorites (in no particular order): 2, 6, 8, 10, 11, 16.

My guesses:
S: 1, 3, 4, 8, 12, 17
Y: 2, 5, 9, 13, 15, 18
P: 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16

Wumpus McGrue said...

Somehow my name got lost when I posted my comment. Those favorites and guesses belong to Wumpus McGrue.