For at least ten years, my home church hosted its Easter service at the large outdoor amphitheatre in my hometown.  It was an opportunity for our large congregation to worship together and to invite the community to join us.  The processional of ministers and the choir at the beginning of the service was breathtaking.  Brightly colored flags were interspersed with purple choir robes for the occasion.  The cross and altar Bible were led out by dancers, dancing with joy before the Lord.  Even more than the “Hallelujah Chorus” for the Recessional, it is the most stunning part of the annual service, in my opinion.  I have sung in the pews.  I have processed with the choir.  I have danced before the Lord with the crosses on the hill behind the congregation in full view.  They are memories that I always associate with Easter morning.

Throughout this Holy Week, one particular hymn that was always included in that processional has been at the forefront of my mind.  Though we sing it on Easter morning, it has become clear to me that it is as much about the cross as it is about the resurrection.  It has fallen on my heart in a fresh way this year. 

Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark!  how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round his pierced feet
fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!  For thou hast died for me;
thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

(Words by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring, Music by George J. Elvey)