"CROSS AND CROWN"
"…When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him" (Jas. 1:12)
INTRO.: A song which helps us look to that future time when those who love the Lord will receive the crown of life is "Cross and Crown." The text is by an anonymous author. I have not been able to find any further information about its origin, but it appeared in The Chorus, or, a Collection of Choruses and Hymns, Selected and Original, Adapted Especially to the Class Room, and to Meetings for Prayer and Christian Conference (Fourth Edition: Improved and Enlarged), compiled by A. S. Jenks and D. Gilket. Apparently the first edition had come out in 1855, and the fourth edition was entered according to the Act of Congress in 1858. The compilers of this book wrote, "This little work seeks a place in the higher departments of sacred song. Its design is, in the first place, to contribute something towards rescuing the popular melodies of our time from general profanation, and consecrating them to the service of God; and, secondly, to aid the devotions of plain Christian people, who make no pretensions to a highly cultivated taste, either in poetry or music, but who seek rather the simple and pathetic, than the artistic and elaborate. It does not therefore hold itself amenable to the censure of the critic. The hope is indulged, however, that, while the humblest will find here much to quicken his devotions and enliven his Christian joy, even to the most cultivated it will not be wholly devoid of the means of spiritual improvement."
In the "Introduction," the compilers continued, "’Why should Satan have the best tunes?’ was oft the language of the Wesleys, Whitfield, and many other champions of the cross. Many persons are aware of the almost omnipotent influence of national ballads on our national morals, and thus on the formation of national character. Hence said a daring sinner, ‘I care not a straw who makes the laws of nations, if I may but make the ballads.’ The first race of Methodists gave a mighty check to profane song-singing in the following manner: whenever they found that the devil had got a good tune that seemed to charm the people, someone immediately composed a hymn or spiritual song to that tune, and thus cheated Satan out both tune and singers; and thousands in latter times have imitated these fathers of Methodism in this respect with glorious success." This hymn was No. 221 under the heading "There Are No Tears in Heaven." Unfortunately, I do not know what "good tune" was used by Jenks and Gilket. However, a new tune was composed for the text by Anthony Johnson Showalter (1858-1924). It is listed as copyrighted in 1932 by the Gospel Advocate, but since Showalter was already dead by that time, I would assume that this must be a renewal, which would make the original date 1904, or an assignment. 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 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson.
The song encourages us to focus our minds past the trials of this life to our future home with God.
I. Stanza 1 talks about life’s rough wave and tempests
“What if our bark o’er life’s rough wave, By adverse winds be driven,
And howling tempests round us rave (roar)? There are no tears in heaven.”
A. Quite often poets have likened our lives on earth to a ship sailing the seas: Ps. 107:23-25
B. It is possible to be driven by adverse winds, which might represent all the false doctrines blowing around: Eph. 4:14, Jas. 1:6
C. Tempests might serve as metaphors for the trials and tribulations of life: Rom. 5:1-3
II. Stanza 2 talks about affliction and anguish
“What though affliction be our lot, Our hearts with anguish riven?
Still, let it never be forgot, There are no tears in heaven.”
A. Affliction simply refers to suffering due to adversity trouble, or distress which occurs in this life: Job 5:6
B. As a result, our hearts are often riven with anguish: Job 7:11
C. However, God has made His children a promise which they should never forget: 2 Pet. 1:4, 9
III. Stanza 3 talks about loss of joys and hopes in life
“If (Our) sweetest joys here vanish all, And fade like hues at even,
Our brightest hopes like meteors fall, There are no tears in heaven.”
A. Often we find that our sweetest joys in life may vanish quickly: Lam. 5:15
B. In so doing, they fade like the hues of evening fade into the darkness of night: Ps. 90:6
C. The hopes that we have in this life sometimes fall like meteors: Eccl. 6:2-3
IV. Stanza 4 talks about mourning for loved ones
“The mourner sad who, drowned in grief, Hath long in sorrow striven,
Shall have at last a sweet relief: Tears wiped away in heaven.”
A. When loved ones die we mourn for them: Gen. 23:1-2
B. Sometimes, the hurt is so deep that we may experience sorrow for a long time: Ps. 13:2m 38:17
C. But God promises a sweet relief to those who mourn: Matt. 5:4
V. Stanza 5 talks about how God is our joy and rest
“Thou, God, our joy and rest shall be, And sorrow far be driven;
And sin and death forever flee The tearless courts of heaven.”
A. God shall be the joy and rest of the righteous through Christ: Matt. 11:28-30
B. Thus, God’s people do not sorrow as others who have no hope: 1 Thess. 4:13
C. And He has a place prepared where sin and death will forever flee: Rev. 21:1-4
VI. Stanza 6 talks about the blooming tree of life
“There, from the blooming tree of life The healing fruit is given;
There, there shall cease the painful strife: There are no tears in heaven.”
A. In this place, the righteous will be able to eat of the tree of life: Rev. 2:7
B. They will be eternally blessed because the tree of life will bloom with its healing fruit: Rev. 22:1-2
C. And all painful strife shall cease because nothing that causes pain will be there: Rev. 22:14-15
CONCL.: The chorus (I assume added by Showalter) identifies this place of eternal life for the righteous as a beautiful home:
“Beautiful home, beautiful home, Beautiful home of love!
And they that bear the cross below Shall wear the crown above.”
The first four stanzas identify various aspects of the cross that those who follow Christ must bear in this life, but the last line of each of those stanzas as well as the last two stanzas remind us of that place where we shall wear the crown of life. Therefore, as we experience the various trials and problems of life, we can find encouragement as we consider both the “Cross and Crown.”