Matthew Bridges

Matthew Bridges

Born: July 14, 1800, Maldon, Essex, England.
Died: October 6, 1894, Sidmouth, Devon, England.

Hymns by Matthew Bridges

Matthew Bridges: From Anglican Roots to Catholic Hymnwriter

Matthew Bridges shines as a testament to the transformative power of faith and the enduring legacy of a well-crafted hymn. Born on July 14, 1800, in Maldon, Essex, England, Bridges was raised in the Anglican tradition, but his spiritual journey would eventually lead him to the Roman Catholic Church and inspire him to pen one of the most beloved hymns of all time.

A Poet from a Young Age

Bridges’ literary talents emerged early in life. At the age of 25, he published his first poem, “Jerusalem Regained,” marking the beginning of a prolific career as an author. Despite his Anglican upbringing, Bridges’ early work, such as “The Roman Empire Under Constantine the Great” (1828), revealed a growing skepticism towards Roman Catholicism. However, a pivotal moment in his life was on the horizon.

The Oxford Movement and a Spiritual Transformation

In the mid-19th century, the Oxford Movement, led by prominent figures like John Henry Newman, swept through the Church of England. This movement sought to reconnect the Anglican Church with its ancient roots and liturgical traditions. Bridges, like many others, found himself drawn to the ideas and spirituality of the Oxford Movement. Under the influence of Newman, Bridges made the momentous decision to convert to Roman Catholicism in 1848 at the age of 48.

A Legacy in Hymns

As a Catholic convert, Bridges channeled his poetic talents into the creation of hymns that would leave an indelible mark on Christian worship. He published two significant hymn collections, “Hymns of the Heart” (1851) and “The Passion of Jesus” (1852), which showcased his deep faith and lyrical prowess. However, it is his masterpiece, “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” that has endured as a timeless expression of praise and adoration for Christ.

A Life of Faith and Devotion

Bridges’ spiritual journey took him beyond the shores of England. He spent several years living in Quebec, Canada, immersing himself in the vibrant Catholic community there. In his later years, he returned to England, finding solace in a small villa at the Convent of the Assumption in Sidmouth, Devon. It was there that Bridges passed away on October 6, 1894, at the age of 94, leaving behind a legacy of faith and hymnody that continues to inspire generations of Christians.

A Hymn for the Ages

Today, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” is sung in churches around the world, its stirring lyrics and majestic melody a testament to Bridges’ poetic genius and unwavering faith. The hymn’s six original stanzas, crafted by Bridges’ hand, have been adapted and expanded over time, but the core message remains unchanged: a call to worship and exalt the risen Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

As we reflect on the life and work of Matthew Bridges, we are reminded of the power of a single hymn to transcend time and denominations, uniting believers in a common chorus of praise. Through his journey from Anglican roots to Catholic conviction, Bridges left an indelible mark on Christian hymnody, a legacy that will continue to inspire and uplift the faithful for generations to come.

Don Chapman

Don Chapman

Composer/arranger Don Chapman has created HYMNDEX as a labor of love to help new generations learn about the lives, legacies and lyrics of historic hymn writers.