O Sacred Head Surrounded

This is a Lenten hymn, which is particularly appropriate on Good Friday.  It is based on work(s) by 12th century Cistercian  abbot, mystic, co-founder of the Knights Templar, Doctor of the church and later Saint, Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), and  Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).

This version was translated by Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), and first published in 1861.     It is similar to other translations like O Sacred Head Sore Wounded.

With meter D it is almost always set to the tune PASSION CHORALE (HERZLICH TUT MICH VERLANGEN).   This was composed by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) and first published in 1601 - although not used for religious purposes until 1613. The rhythms used for it today were adapted by Johann S. Bach (1685-1750).



Church choir with organ:

Instrumental - guitar:



O sacred head, surrounded,
by crown of piercing thorn!;
O kingly head, surrounded
With mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflow'r?
O countenance whose splendor
The hosts of heav'n adore!

Thy beauty, long desired,
Hath vanished from our sight;
Thy pow'r is all expired,
And quenched the light of light.
Ah me! for whom thou diest,
Hide not so far thy grace:
Show me, O Love most highest,
The brightness of thy face.

In thy most bitter passion
My heart to share doth cry,
With thee for my salvation
Upon the cross to die.
Ah, keep my heart thus moved
To stand thy cross beneath,
To mourn thee, well-beloved,
Yet thank thee for thy death.

What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh, make me thine for ever!
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for thee.

5 My days are few, O fail not,
With thine immortal pow'r,
To hold me that I quail not
In death's most fearful hour:
That I may fight befriended,
And see in my last strife
To me thine arms extended
Upon the cross of life.

Modern English lyrics

O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of your most holy face,
yet angel hosts adore you
and tremble as they gaze

I see your strength and vigour
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigour,
bereaving you of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn your face on me.

In this your bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath your cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in your dear love confiding,
and with you presence blest.

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