Words attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1153. Translated from Latin to German by Paul Gerhardt, 1656, translated from Latin to English James W. Alexander, 1830
Tune: PASSION CHORALE by Hans L. Hassler, 1601, harmony by Johann S. Bach, 1729
Key signature: A minor (no sharps or flats)
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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. 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.
6. 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. 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.
8. 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. 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!
10. 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.