Scripture Verse

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


John M. Neale

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.

Music: Pi­ca­rdy French ca­rol me­lo­dy. Har­mo­ny from The Eng­lish Hym­nal (Lon­don: Ox­ford Un­i­ver­si­ty Press, 1906), num­ber 318 (🔊 pdf nwc).

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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.