Lift High the Cross

Text by: George W Kitchin 1827-1912
Music by: Sydney H Nicholson 1875-1947

Lift high the cross,
the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore
his sacred Name.

Come, brethren, follow where our Captain trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God. Refrain

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine. Refrain

Each newborn soldier of the Crucified
bears on the brow the seal of him who died. Refrain

This is the sign which Satan’s legions fear
and angels veil their faces to rever. Refrain

Saved by this Cross whereon their Lord was slain,
the sons of Adam their lost home regain. Refrain

From north and south, from east and west they raise
in growing unison their songs of praise. Refrain

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee. Refrain

Let every race and every language tell
of him who saves our souls from death and hell. Refrain

From farthest regions let their homage bring,
and on his Cross adore their Savior King. Refrain

Set up thy throne, that earth’s despair may cease
beneath the shadow of its healing peace. Refrain

For thy blest Cross which doth for all atone
creation’s praises rise before thy throne. Refrain

Although “Lift High the Cross” was written in 1887, by: George Kitchin in England, it wasn’t until 1978 that it finally appeared in the US. That honor belonged to our very own LBW, the Lutheran Book of Worship; the old green hymnal.

It is thought the inspiration for this hymn came from the story of Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. It was the Edit of Milan in 313 which finally ended the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.

Only a few years earlier Christians were routinely used in gladiatorial games, their dismemberment and their deaths providing entertainment to the elites and masses. A generation earlier, our brothers and sisters would be regularly crucified and lit on fire to light the roads leading to Rome.

This Edict freed the church from brutal persecutions and for the first time in the church’s history, the gospel and the cross could be freely proclaimed without the fear of death.

Knowing and understanding our collective history can help us keep in perspective the world we live in now.

A few months ago I shared with you the plight of our brother, Vano Kiboko and his ongoing imprisonment in the Kinshasa, Congo prison. On Thursday, our brother, Vano was released after 498 days of imprisonment for his faith. Today, Vano can once again Lift High the Cross of his Savior.

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Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook:

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal:

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945

Book of Psalms for Singing    (1912 Psalter is unavailable)

Hymns Ancient and Modern

Here are my new projects:

Trinity Hymnal 1960

Lutheran 1909 Hymnal

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales


Dictionary of Hymnology:

American Hymns Old and New