411. The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns

1 The head that once was crowned with thorns
is crowned with glory now;
a royal diadem adorns
the mighty victor's brow.

2 The highest place that heaven affords
is his, is his by right
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
and heaven's eternal Light;

3 the joy of all who dwell above,
the joy of all below,
to whom he manifests his love
and grants his Name to know.

4 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.

5 They suffer with their Lord below,
they reign with him above,
their profit and their joy to know
the mystery of his love.

6 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.

Text Information
First Line: The head that once was crowned with thorns
Title: The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns
Author: Thomas Kelly (1820)
Meter: CM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Topic: Ascension & Reign of Christ; Epiphany & Ministry of Christ; King, God/Christ as (3 more...)
Tune Information
Composer (attr.): Jeremiah Clark (1707)
Meter: CM
Key: G Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Mark 15:17, Heb. 2:9, Rev. 19:12
st. 2 = Phil. 2:9, Rev. 19:16
st. 4 = Luke 10:20
st. 5 = 2 Tim. 2:12

Thomas Kelly (b. Kellyville, County Queens, Ireland, 1769; d. Dublin, Ireland, 1855) wrote some 760 hymn texts and com¬posed a number of hymn tunes. Of all his texts, this is his finest; it is usually included without any alteration in hymnals today. It was published in the 1820 edition of Kelly's Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture.

A poetic commentary on Hebrews 2:9-10, the text was initially entitled "Christ Perfect Through Sufferings." The opening couplet is probably borrowed from a John Bunyan poem (from "One Thing is Needful," c. 1664) which begins:

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Shall now with glory shine;
The heart that broken was with scorns
Shall flow with life divine.

Kelly's text is an ideal teaching hymn, of which Erik Routley (PHH 31) says: "All the joy and hope of the Ascension, as seen by us through Pentecost, needs to be expressed in the singing of this hymn." We move from Christ's mock crowning by Roman soldiers to his celestial crowning: from his suffering to his glory. We learn that the way of Christ is the way of discipleship: those who bear the cross of suffering for Christ will also share in his glory and reign. Here we find all the joy and hope of the Ascension! The Timothy passage referred to in stanza 5 was probably an early Christian hymn.

A brilliant student, Kelly studied law at Trinity College, Dublin, but then experienced a religious conversion, which initially turned him into an ascetic. After further study he was ordained in the Church of Ireland (1792) and began preaching in Dublin. Judged by the archbishop of Dublin to be too evangelistic, Kelly was barred from preaching. He became an independent preacher and was instrumental in building three chapels, financed largely from his own and his wife's inheritances. He also shared his means generously with the poor of Ireland, especially during the famine of the late 1840s. He published A Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1802), Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture (1804), and Hymns by Thomas Kelly, Not Before Published (1815); his hymns became popular in Ireland, England, and America.

Liturgical Use:
Easter; Ascension; other festive worship services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ST. MAGNUS first appeared in Henry Playford's Divine Companion (1707 ed.) as an anonymous tune with soprano and bass parts. The tune was later credited to Jeremiah Clark (b. London, England, c. 1670; d. London, 1707), who was a chorister in the Chapel Royal and sang at the coronation of James II in 1685. Later he served as organist in Winchester College, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Chapel Royal. He shot himself to death in a fit of depression, apparently because of an unhappy romance. Supported by Queen Anne, Clark was a prominent composer in his day, writing songs for the stage as well as anthems, psalm tunes, and harpsichord works. One well-known piece, the Trumpet Voluntary, was long attributed to his contemporary Henry Purcell (PHH 612) but is now recognized as Clark's composition. Robert Bridges (PHH 386) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (PHH 316) reintroduced Clark's hymn tunes for congregational use in the twentieth century in the Yattendon Hymnal (1899) and The English Hymnal (1906).
Although ST. MAGNUS was originally used as a setting for Psalm 117, it has been associated with this text since they were combined in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern. The tune is named for the Church of St. Magnus the Martyr, built by Christopher Wren in 1676 on Lower Thames Street near the old London Bridge, England.

ST. MAGNUS consists of two long lines, each of which has its own sense of climax. The octave leap in the final phrase has a stunning effect, like a vault in a Gothic cathedral. Assign stanzas for antiphonal singing in unison and/ or in harmony. Organ accompaniment should be lively, with full, bright registration.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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