Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary

(Photo of John M. Moore)


“Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4).

     INTRO.:  A song which points us to Calvary as the place where Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows is “Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary” (#603 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by John M. Moore, who was born on Sept. 1, 1925, in the town of Kirkintilloch in Dunbartonshire, Scotland, of humble Scottish parents.  After reaching the age of sixteen, he joined the local Baptist Church, becoming engaged in Sunday school work, open air meetings, and tract distribution.  Also at age sixteen he began his apprentice-ship as an engineering draftsman.  However, he decided to become a Baptist minister and was educated at the Evangelical Baptist Fellowship Bible College in Glasgow, Scotland, after which he became an assistant superintendent at the Seamen’s Chapel of Glasgow, one of the area’s outstanding evangelistic centers. 

     In 1952, while serving at the Seamen’s Chapel, Moore received a call from the company secretary of a large shipping firm requesting that he visit a young merchant seaman who was lying in a Glasgow hospital critically ill.  After obtaining permission from the nursing staff, he visited the young sailor and found him glad to have company.  They talked for a few minutes, and then Moore handed him a tract based on Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, with a color reproduction of “Pilgrim” coming to the cross with a great burden on his back.  After Moore explained the story, the two prayed, and the young man’s face lit up as he said that his burden had been lifted.  Later that night, sitting by the fireside with paper and pen, he Moore started the words, and the melody followed at the same sitting.  The song was copyrighted that year by Singspiration Music Co. and has appeared in many hymnbooks since then.

     Following his service with the Seamen’s Chapel, Moore became minister at the famous Tent Hall in Glasgow, the largest evangelistic center in Scotland, for nine years.  From there, he moved to Inverness, the capital town of the Scottish Highlands, where he was minister of the Inverness Baptist Church for five years and where he married Esther Marr from nearby Beauly.  They had a son, David Lawler Moore.  Travelling across the Atlantic on several occasions to tour Canada and the United States, he preached in many different churches and participated in various Bible conferences.  Settling in Canada, he became minister of the Willowdale Baptist Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1985 and has continued to write gospel music, producing over 150 hymns, some of which have translated into other languages.  As of January, 2013, he was still alive..

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary” has appeared 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 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum; the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship Revised (not in original edition). 

     John M. Moore’s best known song mentions several types of burdens which we should bring to Calvary.

I. According to stanza 1, we can bring our burden of sorrow and loneliness to Jesus

Days are filled with sorrow and care,

Hearts are lonely and drear;

Burdens are lifted at Calvary,

Jesus is very near.

 A. Our days are often filled with sorrow and care because man that is born of women is of few days and full of trouble: Job 14:1

 B. At such times our hearts may be lonely and drear: Ps. 102:3-7

 C. But when our lives are filled with sorrow and loneliness, we can bring our burdens to Calvary and look to Jesus for comfort: 1 Thess. 4:13-18

II. According to stanza 2, we can bring our burden of care and worry to Jesus

Cast your care on Jesus today,

Leave your worry and fear;

Burdens are lifted at Calvary,

Jesus is very near.

 A. We can cast all our cares on Jesus because He cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:6-7

 B. This includes all our worry or anxiety: Phil. 4:6-7

 C. It also includes all our fear: 1 Jn. 4:18

III. According to stanza 3, we can bring our burden of trouble and tears to Jesus

Troubled soul, the Savior can see,

Every heartache and tear;

Burdens are lifted at Calvary

Jesus is very near.

 A. There are times when our hearts are troubled: Jn. 14:1

 B. Such times often bring tears: Ps. 6:6

 C. When the world brings us such  troubles that lead to tears, the Savior sees and we can go to Him for peace: Rom. 5:1-5

     CONCL.:  The chorus reiterates the importance of bringing our burdens to Jesus.

Burdens are lifted at Calvary,

Calvary, Calvary,

Burdens are lifted at Calvary,

Jesus is very near.

Moore wrote that he never imagined that this little hymn would become a favorite throughout the world.  Although somewhat repetitive, it still gives us courage in the knowledge that “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary.”  NOTE: John MacFarlane Moore passed away on November 2, 2017.

One thought on “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary

  1. MOORE, D.D., John MacFarlane Passed away on November 2, 2017. Predeceased by his beloved wife Esther. Survived by his son David (and Chrystal), daughter Jane (and Ted Flemming); and his treasured grandchildren Ryan, Emma, Cameron and Caelan. Born in Kirkintilloch, Scotland, called to the Christian ministry, Pastor of the Tent Hall, Glasgow, Inverness Baptist Church, New Prestwick Baptist Church and Carrubbers Close Mission, Edinburgh. Then called to Canada to minister in Central Baptist Church, Victoria, BC and Willowdale Baptist Church, Toronto, ON. Former President and National Staff Evangelist of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, former Chairman of the Toronto Spiritual Life Convention and in recent years International Evangelist and Bible Teacher. Author and composer of many hymns and choruses including “Burdens are Lifted at Calvary.” Visitation to be held at Chapel Ridge Funeral Home (8911 Woodbine Ave., Markham, ON L3R 5G1) on Thursday, November 9, 2017, 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Funeral Service to take place at Springvale Baptist Church (3885 Stouffville Rd., Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON L4A 7X5) on Friday, November 10, 2017 at 11 a.m. Online condolences and donations to the Gideons International may be made at http://www.chapelridgefh.com “All my iniquities on Him were laid, He nailed them all to the tree; Jesus the debt of my sin fully paid, He paid the ransom for me.” (J.M.M.)


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