Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne -Emily Elliot


This hymn was written by Emily Elliot in 1864 and was first printed to teach the children in her father’s church about Jesus’ birth. She spent most of her life ministering in Sunday Schools and rescue missions. She was editor of the “Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor.” In 1880, “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” was published in a collection of forty-eight of her poems and hymns titled “Under the Pillow,” a small hymnbook, especially for hospitals, infirmaries, and homes where there was sickness. Emily was greatly influenced by her aunt, Charlotte Elliot, who was an invalid most of her life and wrote the words of “Just As I Am.”


The song begins with the story of Jesus’ birth. 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 2:7). This is a suitable hymn for Christmas, but it’s much more than that. The first two stanzas contrast the glory of Christ’s heavenly home to the humility of His earthly birth. The third stanza briefly describes how the Saviour lived on earth. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Matthew 8:20).


The fourth stanza tells how Christ died. He came with salvation’s plan to set His people free, but He was met with mocking and was crucified at Calvary. The refrain for each of these four stanzas gives a personal childlike response: “there is room in my heart for thee!”  The final stanza and refrain anticipate Christ’s Second Coming, and there is the assurance of Christ’s victory!


The irregular poetic meter of the text made it difficult to find a suitable tune, but one of Britain’s skilled organists, Timothy R. Matthews, was able to provide an excellent one. He named the tune “Margaret” and published it in 1876 in “Children’s Hymns and Tunes.” This easy-to-sing hymn that includes the Nativity and points to the Second Coming can be sung any time of the year. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:10-12).



Thou did’st leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For thy holy nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for thee.
Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth cam’st thou, Lord, on earth,
And in great humility:
The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the cedar tree;
But thy couch was the sod, O thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee:
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word,
That should set thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
They bore thee to Calvary:
When heav'n’s arches shall ring, and her choirs shall sing
At thy coming to victory,
Let thy voice call me home, saying, "Yet there is room!
There is room at my side for thee."
My heart shall rejoice at his voice,
When he cometh and calleth for me.


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Thanks for sharing with your readers this charming story of Emily Elliott’s hymn, “Thou didst leave Thy throne …”. I appreciate all the more also the tune “Margaret” by Timothy Matthews, because Elliott’s poem is not a familiar song meter. I’ll further share this story with my congregation.

Stevan Horning

I do appreciate your histories of the songs. Thank you.

Frances West

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