Scripture Verse

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6:14

Introduction

portrait
John Bowring
(1792–1872)
© National Portrait Gallery

Words: John Bow­ring, Hymns (Lon­don: Row­land Hunt­er, 1825), num­ber 63.

Music: Rath­bun Ith­a­mar Con­key, 1849 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

illustration
Glorification of the Cross
Adam Elsheimer (1578–1610)

Anecdote

Tradition says that while Bow­ring was gov­er­nor of Hong Kong, he vis­it­ed near­by Ma­cao and saw the ruins of St. Paul’s Ca­the­dral, which was gut­ted by fire in 1835. Above the ruins, he saw the church’s cross still stand­ing.

The sto­ry is apoc­ry­phal, though—the hymn was pub­lished a de­cade be­fore the fire, and over 20 years be­fore Bow­ring was in Hong Kong: He be­came Bri­tish con­sul in 1849, and gov­er­nor in 1854.

Lyrics

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me—
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.