"CROWNED WITH HONOR"
"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 is "Crowned With Honor." The text was written by Thomas Kelly (1769-1854). Under the heading "Perfect through sufferings" and based on Heb. 2:9-10, it was first published in his Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture, 5th Ed., of 1820. Other hymns by Kelly that have appeared in our books are "Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him," "Hark, Ten Thousand Harps and Voices," "Sound, Sound the Truth Abroad," "In Thy Name, O Lord, Assembling," and "Look, Ye Saints, the Sight Is Glorious." Several tunes have been used for "Crowned With Honor," but the one (St. Magnus, Nottingham, Birmingham, Carroll, Gerrnock, Langford, or Wilby) most often found with it is generally attributed to Jeremiah Clark or Clarke, who was born c. 1669 or 1670 somewhere in England.
Serving early as a chorister under John Blow in the Chapel Royal, he became an organist at Winchester College from 1692 to 1695 and then at St. Paul’s. In 1700 (or 1704), Clarke and William Croft, composer of the tune commonly used with Isaac Watts’s "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," were appointed joint organists at the Chapel Royal, but in 1705 Clarke returned to St. Paul’s. A gifted, sensitive, and versatile musician, though given to periods of despondency, he produced musical settings for eight stage plays, including Dryden’s Alexander’s Feast, cantatas, anthems, hymn tunes, harpsichord pieces, and other various compositions as music master for Queen Anne. The "Prince of Denmark’s March," arranged as the "Trumpet Voluntary" by Sir Henry Wood, made famous though the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and long thought to have been composed by Henry Purcell, is now known to have been the work of Clarke.
As the result of an unfortunate love affair which led to complete despair and melancholia, Clarke decided to take his life and rode into the country to a pond of water surrounded by trees. Undecided as to he would drown or hang himself, he tossed a coin, but it stuck on its edge in the mud, so he mounted his horse, rode to his home at St. Paul’s in London, and shot himself with a pistol on Dec. 1, 1707. This tune first appeared anonymously in Henry Playford’s 1707 work The Divine Companion, or David’s Harp New Tun’d, second edition, under the note, "The three following tunes by Mr. Jer. Clarke." Since this one is actually the fourth tune, some question has been raised about its authorship, but most authorities now accept it has having come from Clarke because of its similarity to the preceding three. Robert Bridges said that Clarke "seems to have been the inventor of the modern English hymn tune." It is possible that the modern arrangement of this tune was made by Oliver Holden (1765-1844). It was harmonized in 1868 by William Henry Monk (1823-1889).
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Crowned With Honor," often identified simply by its first line "The Head That Once Was Crowned," appeared in the 1922 edition of 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; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater (same tune also used
with John Montgomery’s "Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread"). The text was used with another tune (Coronation) usually associated with Edward Perronett’s "All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name" in 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. Today, the song 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.
The song emphasizes both the past suffering and the present glory of Jesus Christ.
I. Stanza 1 mentions His crown of thorns
"The head that once was crowned with thorns Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns The mighty victor’s brow."
A. Jesus wore a crown of thorns: Matt. 27:29
B. However, as Lord and Christ He is now crowned with glory at the right hand of God: Acts 2:36, Heb. 8:1
C. Indeed, He wears many crowns or diadems to indicate His authority: Rev. 1:5, 19:12
II. Stanza 2 mentions His place in heaven
"The highest place that Heaven affords Is His by sovereign right;
The King of kings, and Lord of lords, And Heaven’s eternal Light."
A. He now occupies the highest place that Heaven affords, because He has a name that is above every name: Phil. 2:9
B. This place is His by sovereign right because He is so much better than the angels: Heb. 1:1-4
C. As such, He is King of kings and Lord of lords: Rev. 19:16
III. Stanza 3 mentions His love
"The joy of all who dwell above, The joy of all below,
To whom He manifests His love, And grants His Name to know."
A. He is the joy of all dwell above, because He is far above all principality and power: Eph. 1:20-21
B. He is also the joy of all who below, both on earth and under the earth, of whom every knee should bow to Him: Phil. 2:10
C. The reason for this is that He has manifested His love for all mankind: Eph. 5:2
IV. Stanza 4 mentions His cross
"To them the cross with all its shame, With all its grace, is given;
Their name an everlasting name, Their joy the joy of Heaven."
A. The cross, which was the instrument of Jesus’s death, is used throughout scripture figuratively for His message of salvation: 1 Cor. 1:18
B. This cross makes it possible for us to be saved by grace: Eph. 2:8
C. It also makes it possible for us to have the hope of heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
V. Stanza 5 mentions His sufferings
"They suffer with their Lord below; They reign with Him above;
Their everlasting joy to know The mystery of His love."
A. Those who follow Christ are called to suffer with their Lord below, just as He suffered for us: Jn. 15:18-21, 1 Pet. 4:18
B. However, because of what He has done for us, those who suffer with Him below can look forward to reigning with Him above: 2 Tim. 2:11-12
C. In this way, we can know the love of Christ which passes knowledge: Eph. 3:18-19
VI. Stanza 6 mentions His purpose in His death
"The cross He bore is life and health, Though shame and death to Him,
His people’s hope, His people’s wealth, Their everlasting theme."
A. The cross He bore is life and health for us because it brings salvation and so we glory in it: Gal. 6:14
B. This is so even thought it was shame and death for Him: Heb. 12:1-2
C. Thus, His people what He did on the cross as their hope, wealth, and everlasting theme: Rev. 5:8-10
CONCL.: The majestic nature of Clarke’s tune matches perfectly the triumphant swell of Kelly’s text. This might be a good song to consider for the Lord’s supper. While it is true that the purpose of the Lord’s supper is to remember the death of Christ, a song does not have to be slow, sad, and ponderous to prepare our minds for partaking of it. This song reminds us that the same one whose head was crowned with thorns and who suffered death upon the cross for us is now "Crowned With Honor."