January 9/10, 2021
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
We said good-bye to 2020 and welcome 2021. May this year be filled with life, health, and joy because of the promises that Christ the King brings to all of us. This year our theme for the whole Church is from the hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns”.
What does it mean to “Crown Him with Many Crowns?” The lyrics written by Matthew Bridges in 1851 as found in the Hymn of Life, with four selected stanzas are as follows:
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 burning eye
At mysteries so bright!
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 years!
The Potentate of time,–
Creator of the rolling spheres,
Glassed in a sea of light,
Where everlasting waves
Reflect his throne,–the Infinite!
Who lives,–and loves–and saves.
Matthew Bridges, who wrote the original six stanzas of the hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” was born in Maldon, Essex, in 1800. Although he was raised in the Anglican church, he was converted to Catholicism in 1848 in connection with the Oxford Movement led by John Henry Newman. The Oxford Movement was an effort by Anglican clergymen of Oxford University between 1833 and 1845 to renew the Church of England by a revival of Catholic doctrine and practice. The hymn was written in 1851 by Matthew Bridges after the time of the Oxford Movement in England. Afterwards, Godfrey Thring, an Anglican priest wrote six additional stanzas to underscore Protestant theology distinct from Catholic theology, as the original hymn was popular among Anglicans. Today, the four stanzas (1, 4, 5 and 6) retained by our protestant hymnals are devoid of the Catholic theological distinctives (in stanzas 2 and 3). For us at RCAC, this history reminds us to hold to our own Alliance distinctives of the fourfold gospel of Christ as the Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer, and the Coming King.
Dr. Hawn, professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, said this: “If there was ever a hymn that suited Christ the King Sunday (last Sunday before Advent begins a new Christian Year), it is this hymn.” We note that the original six stanzas mention six crowns: “Crown him . . . the Lamb upon the throne” (stanza one); [omitting Stanza two and three as in the Hymn of Life]; “Crown him the Lord of Love” (original stanza four); “Crown him the Lord of Peace” (original stanza five); and “Crown him the Lord of Years” (original stanza six). As we enter into 2021, let us remember that Christ the Lamb upon the throne is the Lord of Love, peace and Years.
Also, according to Dr. Hawn, “DIADEMATA (meaning “crowns”) is the tune that was written by Sir George Job Elvey (1816-1893) for this hymn when it was published in the Appendix of Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1868.” Watson had observed that the tune “makes a magnificent setting for the text, march-like and joyful without ever becoming mechanical or strident.” When we sing this hymn throughout 2021, let us be always reminded of the majesty of Christ the King.
One of the imageries of the theme comes from the first stanza which is based on Revelation 22:1:
1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Isn’t this exactly what we need in 2021: the river of the water of life from the throne of God and the Lamb, flowing into our cities bringing fruits and healing for the nations!
Another imagery of the hymn comes also from Revelations, Revelation 19:12, ESV: “His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems (crowns), and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.”
Over the Advent season (Christmas) we had already seen how Jesus’ first coming to earth was humble (Luke 2:7). We also know from our study of Philippians the Jesus came to sacrifice Himself in death on the cross (Philippians 2:8).
His second coming, however, sees Jesus arrives as the King of kings and Lord of lords, with piercing eyes. He sees all and will come to bring judgment. The diadems (crowns) on Jesus’ head show that He is the absolute ruler of the universe. Among the many names He can claim, Jesus has a name only He knows, which means symbolically that the Son of God on His return, will come with a name unknowable to any other person, representing a personality and deeds that is beyond our comprehension (Rev. 19:11-21).
Indeed, against the chaos due to the pandemic and other factors that we have seen in 2020, let us learn in 2021 from the failures of human kings, look to Christ the messiah, the King, and await the return of Christ the Coming King, with hope and joy in our hearts.
Crown Him with Many Crowns! Yes, Crown Him with Many Crowns!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee