Lovely Story, The (The Sufferings of Christ)
DESCRIPTION: ""A story most lovely I'll tell, Of Jesus the wondrous surprise, He suffered to save us from Hell...." Jesus had pity on, and bled for, the "lost race." Judas hailed him with a kiss. He was tried before Pilate and crucified. Paradise awaits his followers
AUTHOR: William Walker?
EARLIEST DATE: 1835 (Southern Harmony)
KEYWORDS: religious Jesus
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Peters, pp. 63-64, "The Crucifixion of Christ" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES: This song seems very rare in tradition, and it also caused the hymnal-compilers some confusion. Charlie Spencer, the informant in Peters, thought it was two centuries old, and written by a London songwriter named Harris. The 1971 Denson version of the Original Sacred Harp prints it on p. 104 under the title "The Lovely Story," credited to "E. J. King, about 1850," but admits that it does not know whether King wrote or arranged the song.
The earliest trace I can find is the 1835 Southern Harmony, where it is called "The Sufferings of Christ" and credited to William Walker, who of course arranged many shape note songs.
Whoever wrote it (and I suspect the words and music are by different authors), it is certainly well-endowed with Biblical allusions:
The "sweat like blood" is found in "Luke 22:43-44" (a passage which, on the manuscript evidence, is almost certainly not an original part of the Gospel of Luke, but it's in the King James Bible).
Judas hailed Jesus with a kiss in Matthew 26:48-49, Mark 14:44-45, Luke 22:47-48.
In Matt. 26:55, Mark 14:48, Luke 22:52, Jesus says that those who are arresting him have come against him as they would against a robber, although the troops responsible are not called ruffians, merely a crowd.
Jesus was beaten before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:67, Mark 14:65, Luke 22:64), although it appears these blows were made by the tormenters' hands, not whips; Jesus was not flogged until after he came before Pilate.
The matter of what Jesus did or did not say to those who questioned him, and when, is complicated; suffice it to say that all the gospels say that he occasionally spoke, occasionally kept silent, and made cryptic but generally not abusive statements.
Jesus is finally whipped in Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15
The colored robe (scarlet/cochineal in Matthew, purple in Mark and John) and the crown of thorns are in Matthew 27:28-29, Mark 15:17, John 19:2. He is called "King of the Jews" in the next verse (and John goes on to a complicated play between Jews and Pilate about that title; compare Matthew 27:27, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, John 19:19).
Jesus carries his cross in John 19:17; in Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26 Simon of Cyrene carries the cross.
The name "Calvary" does not occur in the Greek Bible; it is a Latin translation of "Place of [a] skull." The King James Bible uses the name in Luke 23:33 although modern translations almost universally avoid the name.
The line about "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" is from Matthew 15:46, Mark 15:34 -- although the two gospels don't agree on whether he said it in Aramaic or Hebrew.
It was not the Temple, but the Temple CURTAIN, which was torn in two in Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, although Matthew claims there was an earthquake as well.
The spear in his side is mentioned in John 19:34.
The rest of the imagery, about Jesus's return, appears to be mostly inspired by the Apocalypse, although parallels to most of it can be found scattered about the Bible. - RBW
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