O Sacred Head Now Wounded Lyrics

Notes on O Sacred Head Now Wounded Lyrics

12-century, French cleric and saint, Bernard of Clairvaux is the author of "O Sacred Head Now Wounded." The original poem consisted of seven sections of verse. Each was a meditation on a particular part of Christ's body--feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart and face. American Presbyterian teacher and scholar James Waddell Alexander translated Bernard's hymn into English in 1830.

The hymn was set to music of a 17th-century secular love song. Master composer J. S. Bach harmonized it and made repeated use of it in his St. Matthew Passion and in his Christmas Oratorio. This use connected this hymn to preparation for both Christmas and Easter.

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

James Waddell Alexander (1804-1859) Source: Wikipedia.org

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

J. S. Bach (1685-1750) Source: www.biography,com

O Sacred Head Now Wounded Lyrics

by Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)

English translation by James Waddell Alexander (1804-1859)

(stanzas 1 & 2)

O sacred head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred head, what glory!
What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

O noblest brow, and dearest!
In other days the world
All feared, when Thou appeared’st,
What shame on Thee is hurled!
How art Thou pale with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn;
How does that visage anguish,
When once was bright as morn.

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(3 & 4)

The blushes late residing
Upon that holy cheek,
The roses once abiding
Upon those lips so meek,
Alas! they have departed;
Wan Death has rifled all!
For weak and broken hearted,
I see Thy body fall.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

(5 & 6)

Receive me, my Redeemer,
My Shepherd, make me Thine;
Of every good the fountain,
Thou art the spring of mine.
Thy lips with love distilling,
And milk of truth sincere,
With Heaven’s bliss are filling
The soul that trembles here.

Beside Thee, Lord, I’ve taken
My place—forbid me not!
Hence will I ne’er be shaken,
Though Thou to death be brought,
If pain’s last paleness hold Thee,
In agony oppressed,
Then, then will I enfold Thee
Within this arm and breast!

(7 & 8)

The joy can ne’er be spoken,
Above all joys beside;
When in Thy body broken
I thus with safety hide.
My Lord of life, desiring
Thy glory now to see,
Beside the cross expiring,
I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

What language shall I borrow,
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh! make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.

(9 & 10)

And when I am departing,
Oh! part not Thou from me;
When mortal pangs are darting,
Come, Lord, and set me free;
And when my heart must languish
Amidst the final throe,
Release me from mine anguish,
By Thine own pain and woe!

Be near me when I am dying,
Oh! show Thy cross to me;
And for my succor flying,
Come, Lord, and set me free!
These eyes new faith receiving,
From Jesus shall not move,
For he who dies believing,
Dies safely through Thy love.

Click Link Below for Info on Another Hymn by Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus the Very Thought of Thee - Hymn

About the Author Larry Frazier

Larry spent 24 years teaching music at the University of West Georgia to over 6,000 students. Ten years ago, Larry and his wife Mary Lynn, received comfort, support and inspiration from traditional Christian hymns while she overcame stage-three colon cancer. Larry is on a mission to help you discover God’s incredible power through the intersection of faith and Christian music in your life.

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