264

Lift High the Cross

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Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Perhaps similar to Constantine's vision of Christ's cross, this text makes clear that the cross is a symbol of Christ's love. As Stanley L. Osborne (PHH 395) states, "[The text's] images are biblical, its moods expectant, its promises courageous, and its demands costly" (If Such Holy Song, 321). "Lift High the Cross" reveals many implications of Christ's cross: Christ rallies his people behind him (st. 1-2); Christ gathers his people from throughout the world

 

(st. 3-5); Christ gives healing to the despair of the world (st. 6); Christ's victory enjoins our praise to him (st. 7).

 

Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Question and Answer 54 confesses that the ascended Jesus Christ is now “head of his church, the one through whom the Father rules all things” and “through his Word and Spirit, out of the entire human race, gathers…a community chosen for eternal life...”

264

Lift High the Cross

Words of Praise

King of glory,
we adore you, our Savior and Lord.
You suffered on the cross
and gave your life as a ransom for many.
We bless and thank you for the outpouring of your love
and offer our worship today out of unspeakable gratitude. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
264

Lift High the Cross

Hymn Story/Background

George W. Kitchin wrote the original version of this text in 1887 for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The hymn was intended to be used for a festival service at Winchester Cathedral, England. Michael R. Newbolt revised the text in twelve couplets for the 1916 Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern where it was set to CRUCIFER. Eight of his couplets are included in the seven stanzas and refrain.
 
Perhaps similar to Constantine's vision of Christ's cross, this text makes clear that the cross is a symbol of Christ's love. Though this processional text initially appears to focus on the cross of Christ, it is really a missional hymn that calls us to spread the gospel of Christ’s kingdom throughout the world, which is why it appears in the section of Lift Up Your Hearts that focuses on joining the Spirit’s work through the church. As Stanley L. Osborne states, "[The text's] images are biblical, its moods expectant, its promises courageous, and its demands costly" (If Such Holy Song, 321). "Lift High the Cross" reveals many implications of Christ's cross: Christ rallies his people behind him (st. 1-2); Christ gathers his people from throughout the world (st. 3-5); Christ gives healing to the despair of the world (st. 6); Christ's victory enjoins our praise to him (st. 7).
 
Sydney H. Nicholson composed CRUCIFER for the text as revised by Newbolt. The tune name means "cross-bearer" and refers to one who carries the cross in a liturgical procession. Michael Newbolt’s revision of George W. Kitchin’s original text and Sydney H. Nicholson’s glorious tune were published in the 1961 Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern.
 
Often considered Nicholson's finest tune, CRUCIFER has broad melodic gestures and an effective cadence to the stanzas, which leads right back into the refrain without interruption, pause, or slowing down. Try having the congregation or choir sing harmony on the stanzas and unison on the refrain with select use of the descant. Use of the entire hymn as a processional or on other festive occasions will merit antiphonal groupings for the stanzas or, perhaps, use of a published concertato. Sing and accompa­ny with stateliness and majesty.
 
The descant was composed by Richard Proulx.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

A scholar and Anglican clergyman, George W. Kitchin (b. Naughton, Suffolk, England, 1827; d. Durham, England, 1912) spent most of his life in academic institu­tions. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, England, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1852. He served initially as a headmaster in Twyford, Hampshire, and then as a tutor at Oxford (1863-1883). Later he served as Dean of Winchester Cathedral from 1883 to 1894 and of Durham Cathedral from 1894 to 1912; Kitchin was also chancellor of Durham University the last few years of his life. His publications include A Life of Pope Pius II (1881), a three ­volume work entitled A History of France (1877), and archeological writings.
— Bert Polman

Michael R. Newbolt (b. Dymock, Gloucestershire, England, 1874; d. Bierton, Buckinghamshire, England, 1956) was educated at St. John's College, Oxford, and ordained as priest in the Church of England in 1900. He ministered at several churches during the early part of his career and then became principal of the Missionary College in Dorchester (1910-1916). From 1916 to 1927 he served St. Michael and All Angels Church in Brighton and from 1927 to 1946 was canon of Chester Cathedral. Newbolt wrote several theological works, including a commentary on the Book of Revelation.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Sydney H. Nicholson (b. St. Marylebone, London, England, 1875; d. Ashford, Kent, England, 1947) was an organist and church music educator who greatly influenced English hymnody. Educated at Oxford's New College, the Royal College of Music in London, and in Frankfurt, Germany, he became organist at several famous cathedrals, including Westminster Abbey (1919-1928). Nicholson founded and administered the School of English Church Music at Chislehurst in 1927; this important institution, with branches throughout the English-speaking world, was renamed the Royal School of Church Music in 1945. Located in Canterbury after World War II, its headquarters were moved to Addington Palace, Croydon, in 1954. Nicholson was music advisor for the 1916 Supplement of Hymns Ancient and Modern and prepared the way for its 1950 edition. He wrote Church Music: a Practical Handbook (1920) and Quires and Places Where They Sing (1932) and composed operettas, anthems, and hymn tunes. In 1938 he was knighted for his contributions to church music.
— Bert Polman

The descant was composed by Richard Proulx (b. St. Paul, MN, April 3, 1937; d. Chicago, IL, February 18, 2010). A composer, conductor, and teacher, Proulx was director of music at the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois (1980-1997); before that he was organist and choirmaster at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington. He contributed his expertise to the Roman Catholic Worship III (1986), The Episcopal Hymnal 1982The United Methodist Hymnal (1989), and the ecumenical A New Hymnal for Colleges and Schools (1992). He was educated at the University of Minnesota, MacPhail College of Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota, St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and the Royal School of Church Music in England. He composed more than 250 works.
— Bert Polman
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