"FROM THE CROSS TO THE CROWN"
"…Ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. 5.4)
INTRO.: A hymn which encourage us to look forward to that crown of glory that fades not away is "From the Cross to the Crown" (#326 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Franklin Lycurgus Eiland, who was born on Mar. 25, 1860, in Noxumbee County, MS. When he was a child, his family, who were members of the church of Christ, moved to Robertson County, Texas. In early in life he obeyed the gospel, and, with less than six months of formal training, he learned to love music and began to compose songs. When he was seventeen, he attended his first singing school taught by Miss Sally Campbell. In early 1884, he married Miss Mary Nesbett, who travelled with him and helped him in his work. They had one son whom they named Knowles Shaw Eiland. In 1893, Eiland became partner with John Edmond Thomas, and together they published their first songbook, Promised Crown, the following year, but Eiland’s wife Mary died in 1893.
In 1895 Eiland and Thomas, along with John M. Greer, organized the Trio Music Co. at Waco, TX, to print hymnbooks, the first being The Dawning Light. That same year, Eiland remarried, but his second wife, Ella Tolen, died just ten days after their wedding from a ruptured appendix. Shortly afterwards, with this loss heavy on his mind, he was conducting several singing schools in Hamilton County, TX, and visited the home of a friend nearby. While travelling from there early one morning in a buggy to one of the schools, he looked back upon the house and then to the sun just peeping up from behind the eastern hills. This scene suggested to him the title "From the Cross to the Crown," so he stopped to rest his horse, and while sitting on a rock by the roadside set the song down on paper. Then in 1898, Eiland established the Southern Development Normal, or S. D. N., also in Waco, to teach music to song leaders. One of his most famous melodies comes from 1904, when a blind poetess named Jenny Wilson sent him a poem entitled "Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand," beginning, "Time is filled with swift transition." The tune was conceived when he was sitting in the backyard of the Palo Pinto County, TX, log cabin home of fellow hymnwriter James Washington Gaines.
After a period of ill health, Eiland sold his interests in the music publishing business and moved to Ft. Worth, TX, where he was a member of the South Side church of Christ meeting on Cannon St. and published a widely-read paper, The Musical Trio, on singing news. In one issue he wrote about an up and coming young songwriter of Golden, TX, named Tillit S. Teddlie. During his short life, Eiland produced about 120 gospel songs and provided the music for nearly 100 songs by other writers. In 1909, he went to Golden, TX, to conduct a singing school and also to see Teddlie. Unfortunately, Teddlie was out of town that week, and while in Golden Eiland became ill during the school and died there on Dec. 3, 1909, at the age of 49. His funeral was conducted at the meeting house of the church of Christ in the town of West, TX, north of Waco, and his gravestone contains the carved figure of a hand that appears to be reaching downward, symbolizing God’s unchanging hand.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "From the Cross to the Crown" appeared in the 1936 Triumphant Songs edited by Will W. Slater; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1957 Revival Songs both edited by Marion Davis; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1999 Into Our Hands edited by Leland R. Fleming; in addition to Sacred Selections and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song encourages us to cope with the trials of life by looking beyond them to the promised reward.
I. Stanza 1 tells us to look forward to our home
"Look away from the cross to the glittering crown;
From your cares, weary one, look away.
There’s a home for the soul, where no sorrow can come
And where pleasures can never decay."
A. The cross here refers to our personal cross of trials, heartaches, and burdens that we suffer as we journey through life: Matt. 16.24
B. Such cares present a temptation to turn away from the Lord: Matt. 13.22
C. To keep that from happening, we must focus our attention on the home that God has prepared for His people in that better country: Heb. 11.13-16
II. Stanza 2 tells us to look forward to God’s hand
"Though the burdens of life may be heavy to bear,
And your crosses and trials severe,
There’s a beautiful hand that is beckoning come,
And no heartaches and sighings are there."
A. Sometimes the burdens of life become heavy to bear and all we can do is cast them on the Lord: Ps. 55.22
B. Especially at such times we need to humble ourselves under the Lord’s mighty hand as He beckons us to come to Him: 1 Pet. 5.6
C. He promises that if we follow He will lead us to a land where there will be no heartaches and sighings: Rev. 21.1-4
III. Stanza 3 tells us to look forward to our crown
"’Mid the conflicts, the battles, the struggles, and strife,
Bravely onward your journey pursue;
Look away from the cross to the glittering crown
That’s awaiting in heaven for you."
A. As long as we live on this earth there will be conflicts, battles, struggles, and strife in which we must fight the good fight of the faith: 1 Tim. 6.12
B. We must never let such things deter us from our following the Lord but keep pressing onward no matter what: Phil. 3.13-14
C. It will help us in pressing onward to keep looking toward the glittering crown that God promises the faithful: Rev. 2.10
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the main thought of the stanzas.
"Look away, look away From the cross to the glittering crown;
Look away, look away From the cross to the glittering crown."
While there are certainly many blessings in this life which God has provided for us, and we need to be thankful for them, there are also many cares, sorrows, burdens, trials, heartaches, sighings, conflicts, battles, struggles, and strife with which we must contend, and sometimes they seem to overwhelm us to the point that we want to give up. However, God has planned a reward for the faithful, and He seeks to help us to persevere by telling us to look away "From the Cross to the Crown."