September 14th marks the feast of The Holy Cross, or Holy Cross Day. It is the day when the church views the cross upon which Christ was crucified as a symbol of victory and triumph, and not a day of sadness for a shameful death.
The great hymn, "Lift high the Cross," was really a very modern hymn when it was written, as in many ways, it really marked a turn in the "outlook" of the church, leaving behind a more "penitential past," and moving forward with a holy battle cry, and a call to action.
The original words were written by Michael R. Newbolt (1874-1956).
These words were "modernized" in 1887 by George William Kitchin (1887-1912). He became Dean of Winchester Cathedral in 1883, and he went on to become the Dean of Durham in 1894.
The stunning hymn-tune that is linked with these great words is "Crucifer," composed by Sir Sydney Hugo Nicholson (1875-1947). He was born in London, educated at Rugby School, New College, Oxford and the Royal College of Music. He served as organist at Barnet Parish Church, Carlisle Cathedral, Lower Chapel, Eton College, Manchester Cathedral, and finally at Westminster Abbey.
Nicholson who was so concerned at the sad state of choral music in the parish churches throughout the country that in 1927, he resigned from the Abbey, and founded the School of English Church Music (now the RSCM), in the hope of rectifying the problem. Any lover of Anglican music will now what a tremendous professional and personal sacrifice was made in leaving a position such as Westminster Abbey would be, but his efforts have helped to change the face of church music around the world.
In 1928 he received the Lambeth DMus, and a decade later he was knighted for his services to Church music.
He died at Ashford, Kent at the age of 72, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
Attached below are two photos of Sydney Nicholson, as well as the portrait of William Kitchin.
The complete text is in the first comment.