One of the most beautiful hymns ever written is “O Christ What Burdens Bowed Thy Head.” I heard part of the lyrics for the first time a few years ago in an Al Martin sermon, and then sought high and low for it until I found it at http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/c/ocwbubth.htm. It is not in many hymanls (including the green, blue, and red Trinity hymnals)–I searched about twenty and found it only in the Free Presbyterian Hymnal Grace and Glory. When you read the words you will understand why it is such a precious hymn. Hopefully someone will have the insight to add it to some of our more well known hymnals in the near future.
O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head!
Our load was laid on Thee;
Thou stoodest in the sinner’s stead,
Didst bear all ill for me.
A Victim led,
Thy blood was shed;
Now there’s no load for me.
Death and the curse were in our cup:
O Christ, ’twas full for Thee;
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
‘Tis empty now for me.
That bitter cup,
love drank it up;
Now blessing’s draught for me.
Jehovah lifted up His rod;
O Christ, it fell on Thee!
Thou wast sore stricken of Thy God;
There’s not one stroke for me.
Thy tears, Thy blood, beneath it flowed;
Thy bruising healeth me.
The tempest’s awful voice was heard,
O Christ, it broke on Thee!
Thy open bosom was my ward,
It braved the storm for me.
Thy form was scarred, Thy visage marred;
Now cloudless peace for me.
Jehovah bade His sword awake;
O Christ, it woke against Thee!
Thy blood the flaming blade must slake;
Thine heart its sheath must be;
All for my sake, my peace to make;
Now sleeps that sword for me.
For me, Lord Jesus, Thou hast died,
And I have died in Thee!
Thou art ris’n, my hands are all untied,
And now Thou livest in me.
When purified, made white and tried,
Thy glory then for me!
The Hymn was written by Anne Cousins. Cousins was the daughter of a doctor. “Anne married William Cousin, pastor of the Free Church of Melrose, Scotland. She contributed many poems to various periodicals; seven hymns to The Service of Praise (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1865); and one to Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship, 1866, the hymnal of the English Presbyterian Church. Four of her hymns were included in the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876.” Her contribution to hymnody includes writing the words to “The Sands of Time are Sinking,” a hymn inspried by Samulee Rutherford’s poem “Immanuel’s Land.”
There is a very touching story associated with “O Christ What Burdens Bowed Thy Head:”
“A young officer in the British army turned away in horror from the doctrine of this hymn. His pride revolted, his self-righteousness rose in rebellion, and he said: â€œHe would be a coward indeed who would go to heaven at the cost of another!â€ As the years rolled away this man rose to distinction and high rank in the army, and he also learned wisdom. In his last hours, as he lay on his deathbed, he repeatedly begged those near him to sing “Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head,” calling it, “My hymn, my hymn!”
A gunner of the royal artillery was attending the Old Soldier’s Home in Woolwich during the spring of 1886. The chief attraction to him at first was the night-school. From this he was eventually led to join the Bible-class and attend the Sunday evening service in the Hall. Seeing that he looked very unhappy and that he lingered after the meeting, one night, a worker asked him if anything was troubling him. The tears came to his eyes at once, and he said: â€œI want to be a Christian, but I am afraid that I am too bad. He then told how on the previous Sunday evening, when this hymn was sung, he was so overpowered by the thought of what the Lord had endured for our sins that after the first verse he could not sing. The solemn words were fixed in his memory, and had troubled him all the week, until he came to the great Burden-bearer.”