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Look, Ye Saints, the Sight Is Glorious

May 21, 2009

“Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious” (Lutheran Service Book 495) is a fantastic hymn that is (in my experience) rarely sung. This has much to do with the tune (BRYN CALFARIA), which is not the easiest melody to sing. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fantastic tune that fits the hymn text perfectly, but it requires some careful teaching so the congregation does not feel like you threw them a curveball. We have not taught it here at Grace yet, but it is on my list of hymns to teach, first to the choir, and then to the congregation. The same tune is also used for “Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor” (LSB 534), so once the congregation knows the tune, they can sing two fantastic texts.

Anyway, since today is Ascension I thought this would be a great hymn to discuss. The aforementioned tune was written by William Owen (1813-1893), with a text by Thomas Kelly (1769-1855). The text is not very long, with several outbursts of jubilation, such as a refrain of “Crown Him! Crown Him!” that is sung three times each stanza. The joy of Easter is quite evident, as the hymn text takes us briefly through the Passion, but always keeps the Resurrection in view. Stanza two is especially great: Crown the Savior! Angels, crown Him! Rich the trophies Jesus brings; On the seat of pow’r enthrone Him While the vault of heaven rings. Crown Him! Crown Him! (3x) Crown the Savior King of kings. Crown the Savior King of kings. I especially love the line “Rich the trophies Jesus brings.” Those trophies are not gold or other spoils of war, but the wounds and scars from His beatings and crucifixion. Strange trophies indeed! But those trophies bring life to us and are now the greatest trophies of all.

Stanza three briefly recounts the Passion: Sinners in derision crowned Him, Mocking thus the Savior’s claim; Saints and angels crowd around Him, Own His title, praise His name. Crown Him! Crown Him! (3x) Spread abroad the voctor’s fame. Spread abroad the victor’s fame. The crown of thorns, once given to Christ to mock Him, has now become His crown of glory. What greater crown could He wear than the crown that He bore for us? This makes the hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” (for example) seem different, and takes us from a theology of glory, where we push aside the sufferings of Jesus to get to the resurrection, to the theology of the cross, where the sinless Son of God bore all our sin upon Himself. We glory in the crucified and risen Christ; you can’t have one without the other.

I commend this hymn to your study and hopefully you will sing it in church sometime in the future. (But please, take the time and teach it, instead of just picking it and expecting the congregation to sing it.) This hymn can truly be a blessing to a congregation.

Look, Ye Saints, the Sight Is Glorious – Lutheran Service Book 495

1 Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious;
See the Man of Sorrows now!
From the fight returned victorious,
Ev’ry knee to Him shall bow.
Crown Him! Crown Him! (3X)
Crowns become the victor’s brow. (2X)

2 Crown the Savior! Angels, crown Him!
Rich the trophies Jesus brings;
On the seat of pow’r enthrone Him
While the vault of heaven rings.
Crown Him! Crown Him! (3X)
Crown the Savior King of kings. (2X)

3 Sinners in derision crowned Him,
Mocking thus the Savior’s claim;
Saints and angels crowd around Him,
Own His title, praise His name.
Crown Him! Crown Him! (3X)
Spread abroad the victor’s fame. (2X)

4 Hark, those bursts of acclamation!
Hark, those loud triumphant chords!
Jesus takes the highest station;
Oh, what joy the sight affords!
Crown Him! Crown Him! (3X)
King of kings and Lord of lords! (2X)

Public domain

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From → Church Music, Hymns

2 Comments
  1. Thanks for posting Thomas Kelly’s great hymn. (Today is the 155th anniversary of his death–which is why your blog caught my eye.) The hymn highlights what makes the Christian faith different from all the man-made religions. While the death of Christ is vitally important to us, we don’t worship a dead prophet, but a living, glorified Saviour.

    I agree that Bryn Calfaria (Hill of Calvary) may be different from what some congregations are used to. Likely it’s the minor key that throws us. But there are alternatives. In today’s blog on Wordwise Hymns, I link to a choir using the tune Cwm Rhondda, which is familiar because of its use with Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. Hope you’re able, one way or another, to get your congregation singing this hymn.

    • Thanks for the comment. I do plan on introducing this hymn to the congregation in the next year or so. I plan on using BRYN CALFARIA and having the choir assist in its introduction.

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