Hymns of Holy Week and their Story

April 03, 2023

“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted”

This hymn is the last of the “7 Latin Meditations on the Crucifixion” written by Bernard of Clairveaux.  (1090-1153).  Each meditation is a complete hymn; they address in turn the feet, knees, side, breast, heart, and face of Christ on the cross.  Paul Gerhart (1607-76) wrote 123 hymns, fourteen of them on the Passion of Christ; and he is the author of the German translation of this hymn, and it’s changes as we sing it today.  Writing during the Thirty Years War (1618-48), this painful time was also a time of Scriptural / Confessional fervor.  
Vs. 1 addresses the Head wound of Christ received in the Praetorium, where He was clothed in a scarlet robe and struck on the head.  
Vs. 2 contemplates how sad it is that so strong a face should have become so pale and full of anguish.  It’s vigor has been lost, it’s brightness gone, and impending death is beginning to take it’s toll. 
Vs. 3 explains that this was for a fallen world that needed to be redeemed.  
Vs. 4 leads to a deepening expression of faith.  The dying shepherd whose “lips” had so often fed His sheep now lays down His life for them.
Vs. 5 searches for the words to express the gratitude that has begun to surface in verse four.  Jesus is now addressed as “dearest friend.”  

O Sacred head now wounded, with grief and shame laid 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.

LSB 450

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