Scripture Verse

They…twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. Matthew 27:28–29

Introduction

Words: At­trib­ut­ed to Ber­nard of Clair­vaux, 1153 (Sal­ve ca­put cru­en­ta­tum). Trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Ger­man by Paul Ger­hardt, 1656 (O Haupt voll Blut und Wun­den), and from La­tin to Eng­lish by James W. Al­ex­an­der, 1830. Note: Va­ri­ous al­te­ra­tions of Al­ex­an­der’s trans­la­tion have been pub­lished. The ver­sion be­low is from his post­hu­mous The Break­ing Cru­ci­ble, 1861, pag­es 7–10.

Music: Pas­sion Cho­rale Hans L. Hass­ler, Lust­gar­ten neu­er teutsch­er Ge­säng, 1601. Har­mo­ny by Jo­hann S. Bach, 1729 (🔊 pdf nwc). Hass­ler orig­in­al­ly set this tune to the se­cu­lar words Mein Gmüt ist mir ver­wir­ret, das mächt ein Jung­frau zart.

Alternate Tune:

portrait
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)

Lyrics

illustration
Christ at the Column
Antonello da Messina (1430–1479)

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 lang­uish,
When once was bright as morn.

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.

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!

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.

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.