Hymn Story: Lift High the Cross

Lift High the Cross is a 19th Century English hymn. It was written by George Kitchin and altered by Michael R. Newbolt in 1916.

It has been suggested the hymn was inspired by Constantine the Great’s conversion to Christianity and seeing a cross which had the Latin version of “In this sign thou shalt conquer” written on it.

Kitchin wrote the song in 1887 and intended for it to be used as a festival hymn. The song was first performed at Winchester Cathedral.

Newbolt revised the hymn into twelve cuplets and it was first printed in the 1916 Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern.

The 1916 edition, was set to the tune “Crucifier” by Sydney Nicholson. The hymn is often performed during Lent or Holy Week.

The first publication of the hymn in the United States came in the 1974 Hymns for the Living Church and has since appeared in a number of other hymnals.

Some scholars believe the hymn is a “symbol of the love of Jesus”.

One comment

  • Chingwu Chen

    Thank you very much for sending this beautiful hymn with its background story (short and precise- like it!).

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