He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Words: Venantius Fortunatus, 569 (Lustra sex qui jam peracts). Translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale, The Hymnal Noted (London & New York: Novello, Ewer & Company, 1851), number 24.
The cross is called faithful, because it fulfilled the many promises of God touching the salvation of mankind.
Thy peers may be. That is, can be thy equals.
As the ark prepared a refuge for all those that were saved from the flood, so the only means of salvation for this ruined world is the Cross.
John Mason Neale
A Short Commentary on the Hymnal Noted, 1852, p. 22
Stanza [iv] is perhaps a reference to the ancient belief that the cross of Christ was made from a part of a tree which sprang from a seed or bough of the Tree of Life; this seed or bough having been according to one version given to Adam before his expulsion from Paradise, or according to another version, given to Seth by the angel who guarded the Garden of Eden (see the Mediaeval forms of this legend in S. Baring-Gould’s Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, No. XV,The Legend of the Cross).
It is said that among the relics procured by Rhadegunda for the Church at Poitiers was a particle of the (so-called) True Cross…
In stanza x. the cross seems to be regarded, by a change of figure, as the ship in which the faithful safely ride over the waves of this troublesome world, after those waves have been smoothed for them by the anointing oil that flowed from the wounds of the Lamb of God.
James Mearns, Vicar of Rushden, Buntingford. Julian, p. 880
Thirty years among us dwelling,
His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this, He meets His Passion,
For that this He freely willed:
On the cross the Lamb is lifted,
Where His life-blood shall be spilled.
He endured the nails, the spitting,
Vinegar, and spear, and reed;
From that holy body broken
Blood and water forth proceed:
Earth, and stars, and sky, and ocean
By that flood from stain are freed.
Faithful cross! above all other
One and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peers may be:
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.
Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor,
That thy birth bestowed, suspend:
And the King of heavenly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend!
Thou alone wast counted worthy
This world’s ransom to uphold;
For a shipwrecked race preparing
Harbor, like the ark of old;
With the sacred blood anointed
From the smitten Lamb that rolled.
To the Trinity be glory
Everlasting, as is meet;
Equal to the Father, equal
To the Son and Paraclete:
Trinal Unity, whose praises
All created things repeat.