Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091-1153
Translated into German by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676
Translated into English by James W. Alexander, 1804-1859

And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
Matthew 27:29 & 30

It is difficult to join our fellow believers each year in singing this passion hymn without being moved to tears. For more than 800 years these worshipful lines from the heart of a devoted medieval believer have portrayed for Christians a memorable view of the suffering Saviour.

This remarkable text has been generally attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux of France. Forsaking the wealth and ease of a noble family of a life of simplicity, holiness, prayer, and ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of others, Bernard was one of the most influential church leaders of his day.

"O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" was part of the final portion of a lengthy poem that addressed the various parts of Christ's body as He suffered on the cross. The seven sections of the poem considered His feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and face. The stanzas of the hymn were first translated into German in the 17th century and from German into English in the 19th century. God has preserved this exceptional hymn, which has led Christians through the centuries to more ardent worship of the Son.

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

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.

My burden in Thy passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heav'nly joys above.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

*For Today*: Isaiah 53; Matthew 27:39-43; Philippians 2:8; I Peter 3:18

Ponder anew your suffering Saviour; then commit your life more fully to Him.


Extra text/verses found at The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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