“Majestic Sweetness”

"But we see Jesus…crowned with glory and honor…" (Heb. 2.9)

     INTRO.: A hymn which pictures Jesus as being crowned with glory and honor on His throne in heaven is "Majestic Sweetness." The text was written by Samuel Stennett (1717-1795). It was first published with nine stanzas in A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, compiled in 1787 by John Rippon (1751-1836). Stennett is perhaps best remembered for his hymn "On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand." The tune (Manoah) that most of our books use with "Majestic Sweetness" is sometimes attributed to the Austrian classical composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). It was first found in the 1851 Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes published by Henry Wellington Greatorex, who was born at Burton on Trent in Derbyshire, England, on Dec. 24, 1813, and received his musical education in England, where he studied with his father Thomas who was organist at Westminster Abbey.

     In 1839, Greatorex came to the United States and served as an organist in Hartford, CN. From 1846, he resided in New York City, where he was music director at St. Paul’s Church and then at Calvary Church.  It was during this time that he compiled his Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Chants, Anthems and Sentences for the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, which contained 37 of his own original tunes, and a number of arrangements. This particular tune had no source given. Perhaps Greatorex either composed it himself or adapted it from another unknown source. Many scholars now think that the original source of the tune may have been the Italian opera composer Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868). In 1853, Greatorex moved to Charleston, SC, where he died during a yellow fever epidemic on Sept. 10, 1858.

     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 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. N. Slater. Today it is 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 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. The same tune is used with "A Glory Gilds the Sacred Page" by William Cowper in Slater’s Christian Hymnal, and with "Walk In The Light" by Bernard Barton in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum, as well as Hymns for Worship Revised.

     The hymn reminds us that Christ is now sitting on His throne in heaven, crowned with honor.

I. Stanza 1 (stanza 3 of Stennett’s original) speaks of Christ’s sweetness
"Majestic sweetness sits enthroned Upon the Savior’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned, His lips with grace o’erflow."
 A. Sweetness is often used in scripture to describe that which is precious and dear: S. of S. 5:10-16
 B. The Bible tells us that Christ Himself is now seated in His throne: Heb. 8.1
 C. On His head are many crowns: Rev. 19.11-12

II. Stanza 2 (stanza 4 of Stennett’s original) speaks of Christ’s comparison to men and angels
"No mortal can with Him compare, Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair Who fill the heavenly train."
 A. No one or nothing can compare with Christ because He is God: Jn. 1.1
 B. Although He became a man, He is greater than man because He is above every name: Phil. 1.5-11
 C. He is even so much better than the angels: Heb. 1.1-4

III. Stanza 3 (stanza 5 in Stennett’s original) speaks of Christ’s sacrifice
"He saw me plunged in deep distress, And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful cross, And carried all my grief."
 A. Christ saw us plunged in the deep distress of sin: Rom. 3.23, 6.23
 B. Therefore, He bore the shameful cross: Heb. 12.1-3
 C. In so doing, He carried all our griefs: Isa. 53.1-5

IV. Stanza 4 (stanza 7 in Stennett’s original) speaks of Christ’s joys and triumphs
"To Him I owe my life and breath, And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death, And saves me from the grave."
 A. To Him we owe all the joys we have because every spiritual blessing is found in Christ: Eph. 1.3
 B. It is by His power that we can have victory over death: 1 Cor. 15.50-57
 C. Also, it is by His power that we can have eternal salvation from the grave: 1 Pet. 1.5-9

V. Stanza 5 (stanza 8 in Stennett’s original) speaks of Christ’s hope
"To heaven, the place of His abode, He brings my weary feet;
Shows me the glories of my God, And makes my joys complete."
 A. Heaven is the place of His abode since He ascended to the Father: Eph. 1.20-23
 B. It is to this place of His abode that He wants to bring our weary  feet, having entered the Presence behind the veil as our forerunner: Heb. 6.19-20
 C. There, He will show us all the glories of our God: Rev. 21.22-23

VI. Stanza 6 (stanza 9 in Stennett’s original) speaks of Christ’s worthiness to receive praise
"Since from Thy bounty I receive Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give, Lord, they should all be Thine."
 A. Every good and perfect gift has come down to us from the Lord in heaven: Jas. 1.18
 B. All of these gifts are proofs of Christ’s love divine: Eph. 5.2
 C. Therefore, we should love Him with all our heart: Matt. 22.37-38

     CONCL.: The stanzas usually omitted in most books today are:
1. "To Christ, the Lord, let every tongue Its noblest tribute bring;
When He’s the subject of the song, Who can refuse to sing?"
2. "Survey the beauties of His face, And on His glories dwell;
Think of the wonders of His grace, And all His triumphs tell."
6. "His hand a thousand blessings pours Upon my guilty head;
His presence gilds my darkest hours, And guards my sleeping head."
As we contemplate the divine being who was one with the Father but left heaven, came to earth, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended back into heaven where He rules at God’s right hand, and also remember all the wonderful blessings, joys, privileges, benefits, and advantages that He has made possible for us, we are moved to ascribe unto Him eternal praise with "Majestic Sweetness."


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