The hymn “Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary” was written and composed by John M. Moore in 1952. This is not his only hymn; however, it is his most popular one. Some estimate he has written over 150 hymns.
John MacFarlane Moore (1925–2017), Lyricist & Composer
John MacFarlane Moore was born in September 1, 1925 in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. He joined the Baptist Church at age 16 and was very active in the Baptist denomination. He also qualified as an electrical engineer. He obtained an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Langley, B.C.
The inspiration for the song came from an experience he had in Glasgow, Scotland. He was called to visit a sailor was very ill. He gave him a tract based on the story of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” There was a picture of a man carrying a heavy burden, and Moore told the man that he felt that way until his burdens were removed at Calvary. The man agreed. Moore was moved by the experience to compose this popular hymn.
John M. Moore married Esther Marr Moore and they had a son named David Lawler Moore and a daughter named Jane. He passed away on November 2, 2017 in Toronto, Canada and is buried in Springvale Baptist Church Cemetery in Stouffville, ON.
Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary
Some of the stronger rebukes that Jesus gave were for those who actually increased people’s burdens. He said of the Pharisees: “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Matthew 23:3–5 NKJV). Jesus did not back down. Notice this exchange with the lawyers: “Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.’ And He said, ‘Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers’” (Luke 11:45–46 NKJV).
The term φορτίον phortíon (“burden”) indicates a weight or a load. Thayer goes onto describe the meaning as “faults of conscience which oppress the soul.” Jesus gave a great invitation: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29–30 NKJV). Jesus dealt with the burden of sin at the cross of Calvary.
This does not mean that we do not bear crosses ourselves (cf. Mark 8:34). He also instructed His followers to help others bear their other burdens. Paul wrote to the Christians of Galatia: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1 NKJV). Being a Christian and keeping the law of Christ is not burdensome—“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NKJV). Due to Jesus bearing the cross, we have great hope—“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV). Sadly, many do not understand that Jesus will not remove the burdens of life, so they overlook the fact that Jesus removes the burden of sin and death with the offer of eternal life.
Part of the challenge is for people to throw off the burden of sin and follow Christ. For some reason, people seem to want to try and go it alone; however, one cannot go it alone into eternity and expect to be blessed by God. It would be far better to become a Christian so it can be said to you as it was said to them long ago: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7 NKJV). The question remains whether you will accept the gospel of Jesus Christ which was made of effect at Calvary and throw off your burden? The burden of sin has truly been lifted by Jesus the Christ at Calvary! The question remains whether or not you will wash away your sins in obedience to the gospel as Saul of Tarsus was instructed to in Acts 22:16?
“Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary.” No Pages. Cited 28 January 2018. Online: http://drhamrick.blogspot.com/2011/10/burdens-are-lifted-at-calvary.html.
“Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary.” No Pages. Cited 28 January 2018. Online: http://revivalsounds.homestead.com/midihymnhistory/burdensareliftedatcalvary.html.
“John M. Moore.” No Pages. Cited 28 January 2018. Online: https://hymnary.org/person/Moore_JM?tab=hymnals
“John MacFarlane Moore.” No Pages. Cited 28 January 2018. Online: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?pid=187170014.
John P. Wiegand, Editor, Praise for the Lord, Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.
Kenneth W. Osbeck. 101 More Hymn Stories. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1985, 54–55.
V. E. Howard and Broadus E. Smith, eds. Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX: Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.