01(04): Calvary or cavalry?

Nicholas Loh Avatar

Last September, my pastor gave a sermon entitled ‘Jesus led to Golgotha’. One learning point I had from that sermon was the meanings and etymologies of the words ‘Golgotha’ and ‘Calvary’. The word ‘Golgotha’ means ‘skull’ in Aramaic, one of the two languages of the Old Testament. Golgotha is also known as Calvary, which is derived from the Latin word ‘calvaria’, which in turn, unsurprisingly, also means ‘skull’. Hence, ‘Golgotha’ and ‘Calvary’ refer to the same thing.

Naturally, this made me wonder about the term used for soldiers who ride on horseback. Is the term ‘calvary’? No, it is not! The word that describes soldiers on horseback is ‘cavalry’. I then realised that I had erroneously conflated the two terms ‘Calvary’ and ‘cavalry’ all my life! It is easy to see why people can confuse the two terms though. They are rarely used in everyday speech and writing!

Fast forward a few months. During one of the services, a friend within the church was playing one of the most heartwarming melodies on the organ. He played it as the Lord’s Supper was being administered. As I was not familiar with the melody, I was eager to find out the name of the hymn which contained such a majestic melody. I then found out after the service that it was hymn number 555 in the hymnal that we used: Hymns of Grace and Glory. The hymn was ‘Lead me to Calvary’.

Since learning about that hymn, it has become one of my favourite hymns. Here is a video that I put together recently. I hope it blesses you (enable annotations for the lyrics)!

Yours faithfully,
Nicholas Loh
28 January 2019

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