This Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent, and the theme explored by the lectionary readings is ‘Christ the King’ (or ‘the Reign of Christ’ if you prefer). So the hymn of the week is an appropriate choice. It also anticipates the season of Advent and is actually included in the Advent section in Singing the Faith.
The hymn has its origin in a gospel song, ‘When all my labors and trials are o’er” which was also known as ‘the Glory Hymn’. It was written by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, a prolific American writer of gospel hymns and songs, who also composed the tune. The story goes that it was inspired by a man called Ed Card, who was superintendent of a mission in St Louis, and who frequently concluded his prayers “Oh that will be glory for me”. Published in 1900 Charles Gabriel’s hymn was popularised through its use in evangelistic missions and was soon translated into several languages.
When all my labors and trials are o’er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
Oh, that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me,
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
Despite the popularity of the song (or perhaps because of it) from the outset ‘The Glory Song’ had its critics, who complained about its individualism and self-centredness and its message of pie in the sky when you die.
One critic, Charles Silvester Horne, thought he could go one better and wrote new words to Charles Gabriels’ tune. This was first published in 1909 under the title ‘The New Glory Song’. This is the hymn which features in our hymnbook today.
Charles Silvester Horne was a man of considerable talents. Born In Sussex in 1865 he was followed his father into the Congregationalist ministryhimself became a minister, serving for a while at Whitefield’s tabernacle in Tottenham Court Road (now the American Church in London). He was a gifted preacher and leader among the Free Churches;was appointed chairman of the Congregational Union in 1909 and the following year became MP for Ipswich. (Where did he find the time?) In 1914 he travelled to America to deliver a lecture series at Yale University, later published as ‘The Romance of Preaching’. However soon after, whilst travelling by steam boat to Toronto, he suddenly collapsed and died. Charles Horne was only 49 years old.
Companion to Hymns and Psalms describes the hymn as a Christian version of the vision of the ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ recorded in Isaiah 11:1-9. If so the influence is general because there are few specific quotations. There are also references to Isaiah 2:1-5, 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 5:12. The hymn is a description of the coming kingdom, with the final verse a prayer for the coming of the kingdom (and, unusually, addressed to the ‘Kingdom of Christ’.
Below is the hymn as it appears in the Methodist Hymn Book. (In Hymns and Psalms and Singing the Faith it is reduced to four verses, with a new verse conflating the first two lines of verse 3 and the last two lines of verse 4.)
Sing we the King who is coming to reign,
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain,
Life and salvation His empire shall bring.
Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.
Come let us sing: Praise to our King,
Jesus our King, Jesus our King:
This is our song, who to Jesus belong:
Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.
All men shall dwell in His marvellous light,
Races long severed His love shall unite,
Justice and truth from His sceptre shall spring
Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is King.
All shall be well in His Kingdom of peace,
Freedom shall flourish, and wisdom increase,
Foe shall be friend when His triumph we sing,
Sword shall be sickle when Jesus is King.
Souls shall be saved from the burden of sin.
Doubt shall not darken His witness within,
Hell hath no terrors, and death hath no sting;
Love is victorious when Jesus is King.
Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray,
Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day
When this new song Thy creation shall sing,
Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.
Charles Silvester Horne (1865-1914)