The lyrics of this hymn were written in 1153. Bernard was a monk who lived in Clairvaux. He founght heresy and defended the doctrine of the Trinity, but he also advocated a militant faith. Thus, he was a paradoxical character.
The music was written by Hans Leo Hassler and later harmonized by Bach. I feel like I’m riding on the backs of musical giants, whilst rendering this hymn.
Lyrics: Based on Medieval Latin poem
Ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux
Music: Hans Leo Hassler
Harmony: J. S. Bach
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.
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.
This hymn is often sung during Easter which is fast approaching. It speaks of Christ’s great suffering on the cross as He shed His Precious Blood for sinners like me.