Hymn Story: In the Cross of Christ I Glory   

John Bowring wrote “In the Cross of Christ I Glory.”

Bowing was born in Exeter, Devon, England on Oct. 17, 1792.  He is considered a great linguist, having been self-taught, he mastered five languages.

He translated many literary works, served in the House of Commons for 2 terms and in 1854 was knighted by Queen Victoria and appointed as governor of Hong Kong.

On Bowing’s gravestone is inscribed “In the Cross of Christ I Glory.”

Some sources state that Bowing could converse in over 100 languages by the time of his death in 1872.

Ithamar Conkey (1815-1867) composed the music for the hymn. One evening in 1851, he was upset that only one choir member at the church he served in Connecticut, showed up one Sunday evening during the Lenten season. Upset by his choir’s unfaithfulness, he left the service after playing the prelude. Later that day, he felt remorse over his actions and remembered his desire to use Bowring’s text. Feeling the tune to be dull, he composed a new tune for the text and named it after the one choir member, Mrs. Rathbun, who showed up that morning. He later said, “The inspiration that came to me at that moment was a vivid contrast to my feelings at the morning service.”

Following the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, many missionaries gathered in the Temple of Heaven shrine, gathered around the marble alter and sang “In the Cross of Christ I Glory.”

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