Sir John Bowring (1792-1872)

 •  1 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Hymn Appendix #9.
This distinguished man of letters was born at Exeter, England on October 17, 1792. His education was confined to ordinary grammar school, and then he worked for his father in manufacturing woolen cloths for export to Spain and China. He had a strong liking for languages and by the time he was 16 had mastered five from those he was brought into contact with by business.
He held many appointments under Government and in 1854 was knighted by Queen Victoria. He was made Governor of Hong Kong in which position he did not manifest Christian traits and became unpopular. It was also under him that opium was forced upon China by war, During hostilities the Mandarins managed to poison the bread with arsenic. Sir John lived, but his health was impaired, while Lady Bowring later died from its effects. One historian wonders how to reconcile Sir John’s early piety with his hard dealings later. But “power corrupts” and a Christian should learn that he is a stranger here and the day of ruling with Christ is yet future (2 Tim. 2:1212If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (2 Timothy 2:12)).
His hymn mentioned above is a lovely piece and the author of this book has been lifted up spiritually by it many times since gathered to the Lord’s Name in 1923. Sir John also wrote:
“In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.”
He died on November 23, 1872, and on his tombstone is engraved the first line of the hymn by which he is best known: