This hymn has a simple tune set to hauntingly beautiful harmony by my favorite classical composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. I’ve seen several versions of the words, and I’m not sure which is the most authentic, so I’ll post them as I learned them. Their message of deep devotion to Christ in response to His sacrifice never fails to touch my heart.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How art Thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!
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 Savior! ?Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me 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.
– Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1153; translated from Latin to English James W. Alexander, 1830.