An enigmatic Missionary march
A Yale student and product of the Andover Theological seminary penned the hymn “Christ For The World We Sing”. American Congregational minister Samuel Wolcott had been to Syria to serve as a missionary. The apostles had shown the way for the missionaries who traveled to far places to serve. This, in the verses of Wolcott’s “Christ For The World We Sing”, the fervor of missionary work (founded in the UK and the US in the 19th century) is being passed through generations of missionaries. The song serves as an encouragement, especially to the young people, to heed the call to serve Christ.
In the year 1869, Wolcott was a speaker at the Y.M.C.A. Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. He saw at the podium that some evergreen branches were used to form the words of the convention’s theme above. The convention theme “Christ for the world, and the world for Christ” stuck in Wolcott’s mind. He reflected on it, and recalling his missionary work in Syria penned the four stanzas of the hymn “Christ For The World We Sing”. In it, he presented Christ as the triumphant God whose domain is the entire planet with the vision of leading all believers to heaven. Therefore, “Christ For The World We Sing” shares the march-like melody of similar hymns devoted to the Christian missions, which were many during the 19th-20th century.
If Wolcott flourished in the 19th century, the Italian composer and violinist Felice Giardini who composed the tune “Italian” which became the melody paired with “Christ For The World We Sing”, was born in 1716. At a very young age, Giardini proved himself to be a prodigy as he honed his musical skills in harpsichord, violin, and singing in Milan. He was already playing with a full orchestra at 12 years old. He was a good friend to J.S. Bach and Giardini is well known in Protestant churches because of this hymn which has been paired with a few of their service hymns.