“Crown Him with Many Crowns!”
Crown Him with many crowns / The Lamb upon the throne / Hark How the heav’nly anthems drowns / All music but its own! / Awake, my soul And sing / Of Him Who died for thee / And hail Him as thy matchless King / Thru all eternity!
So begins the first stanza of the popular hymn jointly written by Matthew Bridges (1851) and Godfrey Thring (1874). The inspiration for these lyrics was drawn from the apostle John’s revelation of our Lord while John was in exile on Patmos. He writes, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.” (Rev. 19:11-12)
On His Head are many crowns. This thought caught the hymn-writers’ imaginations. What were these crowns?… From where did they originate?
An earlier passage in the apostles narrative may provide a clue.
“…the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’” (Rev. 4:10-11).
Well… that might account for twenty-four of them, but I have a hunch there will be many more. Throughout scripture we are urged to labour faithfully, to exert self-discipline and effort in order to earn various crowns to be received in eternity.
In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul speaks of the self-discipline he puts himself through in order to gain a Crown Incorruptible, “a crown that will last forever,” He says. “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave [So that I] “will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:25, 27). Near the end of his life he looks back on his life “poured out” for Christ and says to young Timothy “Now there is in store for me the Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me…” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
James encourages the downtrodden saints saying, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the Crown of Life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12). And Peter urges leaders in the church to faithfulness writing “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care… being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the Crown of Glory that will never fade away.” (1 Pet. 5:4).
If anything clear about all these crowns it is this: they are earned only by faithfulness, self-discipline and effort, and earned only in this present life. We must pursue them now, and persist in the faithfulness that earned them. Christ warns “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev. 3:11)
These crowns are not for personal glory, but to bring glory to Christ. We too can be granted the honour of one day placing them before His throne… to “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” But in order to do so we must earn them now.