O Sacred Head

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.

What Thou, my Lord has 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 my 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.


We’ve been singing this hymn almost daily for the past month. I wanted to tell my children a little more about the hymnwriter, and here’s a bit of what I learned. The words to this hymn come from a medieval poem attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux called “Salve mundi salutare.” The poem has seven sections, each of which describes a part of Jesus’ body -his feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head. Our hymn comes from the last part.

Not only did Bernard write the words to “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” he also penned several other well-known hymns including “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee” and “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.” But who was Bernard of Clairvaux, anyway? Here’s what the Center For Church Music website says:

The son of Tecelin, a knight and vassal of the Duke of Burgundy, Bernard of Clairvaux was educated at Chatillon. He was distinguished by his studious and meditative habits.
Bernard left the life of wealth and ease he enjoyed as part of a noble family. He entered the monastery of Citeaux in 1113, where he lived instead with simplicity, holiness, prayer, and a ministry to others. Bernard was one of the most influential clerics of his day and founded 163 monasteries throughout Europe.


John Calvin held Bernard in high regard. Martin Luther called him "the best monk that ever lived, whom I admire beyond all the rest put together." And Luther also said "Bernard is superior to all the doctors in his sermons, even to Augustine himself, because he preaches Christ most excellently." His writings show humility, devotion to Christ, and a reliance on grace that was rare before the Reformation.


Matthew 27: 28- 31They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him
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