Hymn Story

Christ for the World We Sing

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Samuel Wolcott was the pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Cleveland, Ohio when the local branch of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) asked to hold a meeting in his sanctuary.  Wolcott not only agreed to allow their meeting, but also made it a point to attend.  As he listened to the speakers, he couldn’t help but notice the large banner that the YMCA sponsors had hung over the pulpit to announce the theme of the rally.  The banner read, “Christ for the World and the World for Christ.”

“Christ for the World and the World for Christ”–– Wolcott was very much in sympathy with that motto, having served as a missionary for several years.  He knew the need that existed in other countries, but he also thought of Cleveland and the other cities of this country as part of the world that needed Christ.

Wolcott had tried his hand at hymn-writing on a previous occasion, and was surprised when his hymn was published.  Seeing the motto, “Christ for the World and the World for Christ,” he was inspired to write this hymn, “Christ for the World We Sing.”

Verses one and two of this hymn speak of those in need of Christ––”The poor, and them that mourn, The faint and overborne, Sinsick and sorrow worn.”

Verse three anticipates that those whom Christ has redeemed from dark despair (v. 2) will share the work of spreading the Gospel.

Verse four celebrates the joy of seeing people who previously lived in darkness enjoying the light of their new lives as Christians.  (NOTE:  Check your hymnal.  The verses could be different in some hymnals.)

Wolcott wrote two hundred hymns during his lifetime, but this is the only one in common usage today.

Copyright 2007, Richard Niell Donovan