Today's hymn, "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," is so old that historians are not sure to whom to attribute the writing. Most people believe that an monk abbot by the name of Bernard (1091-1153) of Clairvaux, France was the man who put it together. It was first found in the Latin and the words can be found in a medieval poem which had seven parts. Each part of the poem would address a certain part of Christ's body, (feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and face.) These words were from the 7th part and was first entitled, "To the Suffering Face of Jesus Christ." Years later it was translated into English by James Alexander, and the music was written by a German composer during the Renaissance period. There are some people who do not care for hymns like this one which are written in a minor key and sound so sad. But read the words carefully; the message to us is very powerful.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns Thy only crown,
How art Thou pale 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 sinner's gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! 'Tis I deserve Thy place;
Lord on me with Thy favor, vauch-safe 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!
* Edersheim, "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah"
From Schaefer Family Hymn Histories