“Daddy, I want to tell you something in the car, ” she said before we left the house that morning.
“Sure, honey,” I said while rushing around to grab my computer, lunch bag and kiss my wife. But once in the car, my daughter started talking because she did want to tell me something.
“Daddy, there are two girls in my class who don’t like each other and the other day they were both trying to get my friend, Mia, to talk to them and not the other girl.”
“Were you part of the conversation too?”
“Yes, but I was just there.”
“That sounds like a hard situation, honey.”
“Yeah, I didn’t know what to do.”
Conflicts and differences of opinion are hard whether you are in 2nd grade or if you’re 60.
This weekend we are singing a hymn rewrite that came out of conflict and yet through the working of the Holy Spirit it came together as the song we sing today. This is the story of two men who disagreed with each other so much that the one wrote new lyrics to the other’s song. It started like this…
Matthew Bridges was a man in the 1800’s who was raised in the Anglican church and was strongly opposed the Catholic church. He was so opposed to Catholics that he wrote a book against them. Ironically, he later met Catholics who had a strong faith in Christ and he became a Catholic himself. It was after this that he wrote the first draft of the famous hymn, Crown Him With Many Crowns, based on Revelation 19.
Revelation 19 is a description of the worship of heaven and of Jesus, no longer the babe in the manger, who rides as a conquering king.
Billions of people shout out in worship.
Elders and strange people bow facedown in worship.
And into this scene Jesus appears…
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.
Geoffrey Thring was a pastor and priest around the same time. He wrote lots of songs in his life time and one of them was a rewrite of Bridge’s hymn. While Thring found the description of Revelation to be an awesome one, he thought the lyrics of this hymn to have too much Catholic theology. He decided to write 6 brand new stanzas.
Ironically, the 12 stanzas have been mixed and mingled over the years so that most churches sing 3 verses from Bridge’s version and 3 verses from Thring’s version. We are mixing it up even more by singing the arrangement by Chris Tomlin. So this song now has four authors: Matthew Bridge’s Geoffrey Thring, Chris Tomlin and the Holy Spirit.
Things haven’t changed much since the 1800’s or since 2nd grade. Christians still have disagreements. Kids still fight. But what we create in disunity, God will eventually bring together under Jesus, the one who wears many crowns.