Saturday, 28 March 2015

"In the cross of Christ I glory" John Bowring, 1792-1872

AMONG the hymn-writers represented in our Sunday School Hymnal are to be found a shoe maker, a prisoner in bondage, an editor, several bishops and a cardinal, a converted slave-trader, a lawyer, a blind woman, a student, and a college professor. None, however, bore greater distinction, or won higher glory in the public life of a statesman, than did Sir John Bowring. He represented the English government in France at one time. Later he was consul to Hongkong, and afterward governor of Hongkong. He became a great factor in the political development of the Orient. Twice he was a member of the British Parliament and was knighted in 1854. Besides his distinctions in statecraft, he won high literary honors and was the master of thirteen different languages, having made translations from all of them into English. 

In spite of all these great earthly successes, and in spite of the fact that he was a Unitarian by faith, he humbled himself before the cross of Jesus Christ and uttered his faith in the striking word-picture of this hymn : 

In the cross of Christ I glory, 
Towering o'er the wrecks of time. 

He lived to be over eighty years old, writing other famous hymns, among them our well-known missionary hymn, "Watchman, tell us of the night." At length he died in 1872 at Exeter, his birthplace ; and upon his tombstone you may read the inscription, "In the cross of Christ I glory."  

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