|Composer:||Ithamar Conkey (1851)|
|Incipit:||51317 65155 63234|
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.
This story is associated with the writing of RATHBUN: One Sunday in 1849 Ithamar Conkey (b. Shutesbury, MA, 1815; d. Elizabeth, NJ, 1867) walked out of the morning service at Central Baptist Church, Norwich, Connecticut, where he was choir director and organist, frustrated because only one soprano from his choir had come that morning. The next Sunday the minister preached a Lenten message on the words of Christ on the cross. One of the hymns to be sung was Bowring's "In the Cross of Christ I Glory." Later that day Conkey's discouragement changed to inspiration, and he composed a new tune for that text. He named the tune after that one faithful soprano, Mrs. Beriah S. Rathbun. The tune was published in Henry W. Greatorex's Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1851). In 1850 Conkey moved to New York City and became bass soloist at Calvary Episcopal Church. Later he was bass soloist and conductor of the quartet choir at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church. He also sang frequently in oratorio performances.
RATHBUN is easily sung in parts. To sense the joy that breathes through the text, do not sing too slowly. Some hymnals set this text to STUTTGART (329), a helpful alternate choice.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988