"LEAD ME TO CALVARY"
"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him" (Lk. 23.33)
INTRO.: The death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is the means of our eternal redemption. Therefore, we need regularly to remember His suffering, death, and victorious resurrection. A song that reminds us of what happened when Jesus was crucified on the cross for our sins is "Lead Me To Calvary" (#179 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #299 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Jennie Evelyn Hussey, who was born at Henniker, NH, on Feb. 8, 1874, into a family which had been Quakers, or members of the Religious Society of Friends, for four generations. Herself a life-long Quaker, she began to produce poetry at a very early age and during her life was credited with approximately 150 hymn texts . "Lead Me To Calvary" was first published in 1921 in New Songs of Praise and Power, No. 3 of the Hall-Mack Co.
The book was edited and the tune (Duncannon) was composed both by William James Kirkpatrick (1828-1921). It was one of Kirkpatrick’s last collections since it came out the year that he died. Until her final years, Hussey lived most of her life on the same family farm at Henniker, NH, where she had been born, but much of her time was filled with suffering and hardship due to the fact that she cared for her invalid sister. However, she was known for her cheerful disposition and courageous attitude. Toward the end of her days, she resided in the Home for the Aged at Concord, NH, where she died on Sept. 5, 1958.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
This hymn helps us remember what Jesus did for us by His death on Calvary.
I. Stanza 1 focuses upon Jesus’ thorn-crowned brow as He hung on Calvary
"King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, Lead me to Calvary."
A. Although Jesus was crowned King upon His ascension back into heaven, each individual figuratively crowns Him as King of his life by acknowledging Him as Lord: Rom. 10.9-10 (and most other songs that talk about "crowning Jesus," which Sacred Selections editor Ellis Crum changed to "praise" or something like that, are using the term in the same sense)
B. As a result of Christ’s position as King, we should give Him glory: Rev. 5.12-13
C. As a cruel, mocking symbol of His kingship, He was given a crown of thorns before His crucifixion: Mk. 15.14-20
II. Stanza 2 focuses upon the burial of Jesus following His death on Calvary
"Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid, Tenderly mourned and wept;
Angels in robes of light arrayed Guarded Thee whilst Thou slept."
A. While Christ’s burial isn’t given the same spiritual significance as either His death or resurrection, it is still recorded as a fact of
scripture: Lk. 23.50-56, 1 Cor. 15.3-4
B. There were a few who tenderly mourned and wept for Him at His death: Lk. 23.27-28
C. We do not know if angels actually guarded Him while He was in the tomb, but angels were certainly there when He arose from the dead: Matt. 28.1-7
III. Stanza 3 focuses upon the resurrection of Jesus and the empty tomb which in essence validates His dath on Calvary
"Let me like Mary, through the gloom, Come with a gift to Thee;
Show to me now the empty tomb, Lead me to Calvary."
A. Mary evidently refers to Mary Magdalene who came with the women early that first day of the week with spices to anoint the body of Jesus: Mk. 16.1, Jn. 1.1-18
B. While we cannot go to the literal tomb with a gift for Jesus, He wants us to show that same attitude by giving Him our hearts in obedience and our lives in service to Him: Matt. 22.37, Rom. 12.1-2
C. And we can be reminded of this as the scriptures show to us the empty tomb: Lk. 24.1-9
IV. Stanza 4 focuses upon the application of what Jesus means to us because of His death on Calvary
"May I be willing, Lord, to bear Daily my cross for Thee;
Even Thy cup of grief to share, Thou hast borne all for me."
A. We must be willing to bear the cross of complete submission to Christ: Mt. 16.24-26
B. We must even be willing to drink the cup of suffering for Him in this life if need be: Mt. 20.20-23
C. And the reason that we must be willing to do this is because He has already borne all for us by dying upon the Cross for our sins: 2 Cor. 8.9, 9.15
CONCL.: The chorus well states the very purpose of the entire song as it asks the Lord to help us not to forget the love that was shown for us in the suffering and death of Christ by leading us in our minds back to Calvary.
"Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary."
We often use this song to prepare our minds for the Lord’s supper, and it is a very appropriate song to do just that, but it can be used at other times as well. So, whenever I need help to face temptation or sorrow, and also on the first day of each week when I need to remember Christ’s death by eating His supper, I should ask the Lord mentally to "Lead Me To Calvary."