“Nailed Upon Golgotha’s Tree”

"And they bring Him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull" (Mk. 15:22)

     INTRO.: A hymn which reminds us of the agony that Jesus suffered at Golgotha is "Nailed Upon Golgotha’s Tree." The text is apparently based upon a hymn originally written by Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868). Milman produced thirteen hymns, the best known of which is probably "Ride On, Ride On in Majesty," before 1823, and gave them to Reginald Heber, but they were not published until 1827 in Heber’s posthumous Hymns. They were republished in Milman’s own 1837 Selection of Psalms and Hymns. This one was entitled, "Bound Upon Th’Accursed Tree." The original stanzas are as follows:
1. "Bound upon the accursèd tree, Faint and bleeding, who is He?
By the eyes so pale and dim, Streaming blood, and writhing limb;
By the flesh with scourges torn; By the crown of twisted thorn;
By the side so deeply pierced: By the baffled, burning thirst;
By the drooping death-dewed brow; Son of Man! ’tis Thou! ’tis Thou!"
2. "Bound upon the accursèd tree, Dead and awful, who is He?
By the sun at noonday pale, Shivering rocks and rending veil;
Earth that trembles at His doom, Yonder saints who burst their tomb;
Eden promised ere he died To the felon at His side;
Lord! our suppliant knees we bow, Son of God! ’tis Thou! ’tis Thou!"
3. "Bound upon the accursèd tree, Sad and dying, who is He?
By the last and bitter cry, By the dying agony;
By the lifeless body laid In the chamber of the dead;
By the mourners come to weep Where the bones of Jesus sleep.
Crucified! we know Thee now: Son of Man! ’tis Thou! ’tis Thou!"
4. "Bound upon the accursèd tree, Dread and awful, who is He?
By the prayer for them that slew, ‘Lord, they know not what they do;’
By the spoiled and empty grave; By the souls He died to save;
By the conquest He hath won; By the saints before His throne;
By the rainbow round His brow; Son of God! ’tis Thou! ’tis Thou!"
Who made the possible adaptations from Milman’s hymn to produce the three
stanzas beginning "Nailed Upon Golgotha’s Tree" is unknown.

     Stanza 4 was written by Alfred P. Gibbs, who was born at Birmingham, England, in 1890, and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Led led to a saving knowledge of Christ by his twin brother, Edwin, Gibbs served as military chaplain during World War I, preaching to soldiers in training camps. In 1919 he set off for Moody Bible School in Chicago, IL. There he soon became involved in Rescue Mission work. His most familiar book is probably The Preacher And His Preaching. He died in 1967. The first and only book in which I have seen this hymn, set to a tune (Martyn) which we most often associate with Charles Wesley’s "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," was in the 1966-1967 Crusader Hymns and Hymn Stories edited by Cliff Barrows and published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, where the authorship is simply noted, "Source unknown; Alfred P. Gibbs, stanza 4."

     Another tune (Refuge) that can be used with this hymn was composed by Joseph Perry Holbrook (1822-1888). It was first published with "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," in the 1862 Songs of the Church, or Hymns and Tunes for Christian Worship edited by Charles S. Robinson with Holbrook’s assistance. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the text has never been used in any of which I am aware. The Holbrook tune appeared as an alternate for "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today this tune, again as an alternate for "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" 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; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections.

     The song emphasizes the suffering that Jesus underwent in His death for us, along with His victory.

I. Stanza 1 talks about what happened to Him
"Nailed upon Golgotha’s tree–Faint and bleeding, Who is He?
Hands and feet so rudely torn, Wreathed with crown of twisted thorn,
Once He lived in heaven above, Happy in His Father’s love.
Son of God, ’tis He, ’tis He, On the cross at Calvary."
 A. As Jesus hung upon the cross, He certainly was faint and bleeding: Jn. 14:33-34
 B. His hands, and most likely His feet, were rudely torn because of the nails: Jn. 20:25
 C. Yet, this one was the very Son of God who once lived in heaven but became flesh for us: Jn. 1:1, 14

II. Stanza 2 talks about how people treated Him
"Nailed upon Golgotha’s tree–Mocked and taunted, Who is He?
Scorners tell Him to come down, Claim His kingdom and His crown.
He it was who came to bless, Full of love and tenderness.
Son of Man, ’tis He, ’tis He, On the cross at Calvary."
 A. While Jesus was on the cross, He was mocked and taunted: Matt. 27:27-31
 B. Scorners called on Him to come down and save Himself: Matt. 27:39-43
 C. Yet, He was the Son of Man who was made like us in order to bless and aid us: Heb. 2:14-18

III. Stanza 3 talks about why He was willing to do this
"Nailed upon Golgotha’s tree–As a victim, Who is He?
Bearing sin, but not His own, Suffering agony unknown,
He, the promised sacrifice, For our sins has paid the price.
Lamb of God, ’tis He, ’tis He, On the cross at Calvary."
 A. Jesus, on the cross, was a victim, a sacrifice for our sins: Heb. 9:26
 B. He was bearing not any sin of His but our sins: Isa. 53:4-5
 C. Therefore, He paid the price for our sins by His blood that we might have remission as the sacrificial Lamb: Matt. 26:28, 1 Pet. 1:18-19

IV. Stanza 4 talks about where He is now
"Throned in glorious majesty, Lord triumphant, Who is He?
E’en the same Who came to die, Now in heaven, exalted high.
With adoring hearts we now At His blessed feet would bow.
Lord of all, ’tis He, ’tis He, Throned in glorious majesty."
 A. This same Jesus who came to die is now throned in glorious majesty: Acts 2:32-33
 B. Because He was willing to die for us, He has been exalted above all principality and power: Eph. 1:20-21
 C. Therefore, we and all mankind should bow the knee to Him and confess His name: Phil. 2:5-11

     CONCL.: Unfortunately, this song is very likely unknown to most people associated with the Church of Christ, but it would make an excellent addition to the hymns that we use to prepare our minds for the Lord’s supper. In fact, one website that I visited in doing research for the hymn listed it under "communion hymns." The very purpose of the Lord’s supper is to help us remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us when He was "Nailed Upon Golgotha’s Tree."


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