January 6, 2013

The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns

Crowned With Glory Now

The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns was written is 1820 by Thomas Kelly (1769-1854). Born in Dublin, Ireland, Kelly took Holy Orders in the Church of England in 1792. He would eventually leave the Anglican Church, and set up a local independent congregation where he preached and lead worship services which included some of the 765 hymns he wrote during his life. The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns is set to the tune, Saint Magnus (Nottingham) written in 1707 by English baroque composer and organist, Jeremiah Clarke (c.1659-1707). In the Liturgy of the Hours it is used on Ascension.

THE HEAD THAT ONCE WAS CROWNED WITH THORNS by Thomas Kelly, 1820 (Public Domain)

1. The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now:
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty victor’s brow.

2. The highest place that heav’n affords
Is surely his by right:
The King of kings and Lord of lords,
And heav’n’s eternal light.

3. The joy he is of all above,
The joy to all below:
To ev’ryone he shows his love,
And grants his name to know.

4. To them the cross, with all its shame,
With all its grace, is giv’n:
Their name an everlasting name.
Their joy the joy of heav’n.

5. The cross he bore is life and health,
Though shame and death to him;
His people’s hope, his people’s wealth,
Their everlasting theme.

Sung by the Choir of the King's School


  1. Here's a link to a nice version done by The Choir of the King's School, Canterbury, uploaded to Youtube in 2012:

  2. Thanks Gail. Everything I've heard from the "Complete New English Hymnal" series is so well done.


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