(This hymn was written in 1864)
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:9)
Emily Elliott was born south of London, in the little holiday town of Brighton on the English Channel, in 1836. Her father, Edward Elliott, was pastor of St. Mark’s Church there. His invalid aunt – Charlotte Elliott, well-known hymnist and the author of the invitational hymn “Just As I Am” – lived nearby.
While working with children in the church choir and the local parish school, Emily, then in her late twenties, wanted to use the Christmas season to teach them about the entire life and mission of the Saviour. As she studied Luke 2:7, she wrote about this hymn. The first and second verses speak of our Lord’s birth, but the third verse describes His life as an itinerate preacher. The next stanza describes His death on Calvary, and the last verse proclaims His Second Coming.
Emily had her hymn privately printed, and it was first performed in her father’s church during the Christmas season of 1864. Six years later, she included it in a magazine she edited called Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor.
Several years later, Emily inserted this carol into her book of poems and hymns entitled Chimes for Daily Service. “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” first appeared in the United States in The Sunday School Hymnal, published in Boston in 1871.
Emily devoted her life to Sunday school work, to ministering to the down and out in Brighton’s rescue missions, and to sharing the message of Christ through poems, hymns, and the printed page. Another of her carols was widely used for many years during the Christmas season, though it isn’t well-known today. The words are ideally suited for the children Emily so loved. This carol, too, encompasses our Lord’s entire life and mission.
(An exerpt from Then Sings My Soul, written by Robert J. Morgan)