John Bowring wrote the words of this hymn. Bowring was a brilliant man who had a special gift for languages. He is reputed to have learned a hundred different languages during his lifetime, and translated poetry into English from a number of languages. Because he was brilliant and good with languages, the British government appointed him to a number of jobs that required him to travel throughout Europe as well as to Syria and even Siam — modern Thailand. He learned Chinese and served as the British governor of Hong Kong in the mid-1800s.
Some people say that Bowring was inspired to write “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” when he visited Macao, a Portuguese colony near Hong Kong, and saw a great bronze cross towering over the ruins of a cathedral that had been destroyed by a typhoon. Whatever his inspiration, this hymn that celebrates the cross of Christ has been a favorite since it was first published in 1825, nearly two centuries ago.
— Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan