What an amazing and inspiring hymn, with unbelievable lyrics that are mind blowing for us modern Christians! These lyrics are so good, and so deep, that one of our backing vocalists stopped our recording session to ask what the meaning of the words were! How awesome!
This song was written by not one, but two composers, a generation apart (and not many songs can claim that!). Something well-loved is something to keep fresh, to renew its meaning and appreciation by those who use it. Matthew Bridges started it in 1851 and Godfrey Thring continued its development 23 years later in 1874.
Bridges and Thring came from similar backgrounds and contributed to His kingdom in many similar ways in 19th Century England. Matthew Bridges was an Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1848. Three years later he composed the hymn’s original verses, at least four of the eventual nine verses, although some believe that the hymn actually had as many as 12 verses, with Bridges writing the first six of them and Thring another six around two or three decades later.
That’s crazy right? Crown Him with Many Crowns was written by two men, from Catholicism and Anglicanism, 23 years apart!
You just couldn’t write a crazier script!
Bridges’ verses, as one might think, had some meaning for him as a Catholic, while Thring’s verses emphasized themes that Protestants could appreciate more. It’s thought that Thring wrote additional verses for this very reason, at the request of an associate who did not approve of the reference to the virgin Mary in one Bridges’ verse as the ‘mystic rose’.
Both men were 51 years old when they composed their works, and produced either many hymnals or other works both before and after “Crown Him with Many Crowns”. Crowning Him wasn’t just words of theory with either believer, then, but a lifelong endeavor.
I believe that the Holy Spirit Some moved both Bridges and Thring to honor Him at the same age of 51.
To be sure, both Bridges and Thring must have been familiar with Revelation 19:12, and the awe-inspiring scene there. The Lord wears many crowns, John tells me. So, perhaps it’s fitting that there are as many as twelve crowns to consider in this time-tested composition.
Nine of the twelve verses are known, with evidence that some mixing of the verses’ words has also been a feature of this hymn over time, making its exposition challenging. But, the themes, and the message that He can be praised for the many facets of Him and His kingdom, are not confusing.
Crown Him, because He’s the perfect Lamb; the Peace; the sum of Life; the Son of Man; Love itself; Lord-King over what’s above and below; the Redeemer, whose infancy fulfilled prophecy; heaven’s preparer and caretaker; and time-ruler. No other being has all these qualities, or even one of them. How does He wear all these crowns at once? One of His mysteries, and something more to discover up there.
But for the moment, this is an awesome and amazing hymn that is sheer worship and adoration of the King of Kings, so let’s forget the theology and let’s just worship together, just as we will in Heaven!
Crown Him with Many Crowns
1. 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. 2. 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. 3. Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side, those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified. All hail, Redeemer, hail! For thou hast died for me; thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.