O Sacred head now wounded

This hymn comes from the last section of a seven-part Latin poem written in either the 12th or 13th century. Each of the seven sections focuses on one aspect of Christ on the cross—His feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and 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, hast suffered,
Was all for sinners’ gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour:
‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favour,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

The joy can ne’er be spoken,
Above all joys beside,
When in thy body broken
I thus with safety hide.
Lord of my life, desiring
thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy Cross expiring,
I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine for ever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for Thee.

Be near when I am dying,
O show Thy Cross to me;
And for my succour flying,
Come, Lord, to set me free.
These eyes, new faith receiving,
From Jesus, shall not move;
For he, who dies believing,
Dies safely, through Thy love.

“Christ died for me.” What a simple statement. What a profound statement. As I read the second stanza of this hymn, I imagine the poet with tears in his eyes as the truth of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice sinks in. I deserve death and eternal separation from God, but because of the cross I am His beloved child. I think that’s worth shedding some tears over—tears of sorrow at my sin and of joy at my salvation.
At the end of the fourth stanza is a prayer I’ve appropriated for myself: Lord let me never, never outlive my love for Thee.

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