John Bowring, 1792-1872

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Galatians 6:14

The cross has been the most significant symbol of the Christian faith throughout church history. The symbol of the cross should always remind us of the price that was paid by the eternal God for man's redemption. "In the Cross of Christ I Glory" is generally considered one of the finest hymns on this subject. It was written by John Bowring, one of the most remarkable men of his day as well as one of the greatest linguists who ever lived. It is said that he could converse in over 100 different languages before his death.

Some writers claim that John Bowring had visited Macao, on the South Chinese Coast, and was much impressed by the sight of a bronze cross towering on the summit of the massive wall of what had formerly been a place of worship. This formerly beautiful edifice, originally built by early Portuguese colonists, overlooked the harbor and had been destroyed by a typhoon. Only one wall, which was topped by the huge brasen cross, remained. The scene is said to have so impressed Bowring that it eventualy served as the inspiration for this hymn text.

The writing of the tune for this hymn is also most interesting. It was composed 24 years after Bowring's text by an American organist and choir leader of the Central Baptist Church of Norwich, Connecticut. The composer, Ithamar Conkey, was sorely disappointed at one Sunday morning service when only one choir member appeared, a faithful soprano by the name of Mrs. Beriah Rathbun. Before the evening service Conkey composed a new tune for this text and dedicated it to his one faithful choir member.

The preaching of the cross may be a foolish message to many, "but unto us who are saved it is the power of God." (I Corinthians 1:18).

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.

*For Today*: John 19; Romans 5:6-11; I Corinthians 1:17-19; Ephesians 2:16

Determine to allow the glory of Christ's cross to be evident in all that you do.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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