Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hymn of Promise

Here is another hymn! This one is for a dear friend of mine, Audrey Wenner!

Title: Hymn of Promise

Tune: Promise


Author: Natalie Sleeth (1934-1992)

Composer: Natalie Sleeth (1934-1992)

        Born in Evanston, Illinois, Natalie Sleeth began her musical career at the young age of four years old, a decision that would take her far and make her very well known. Several years down the road, in 1952, Sleeth earned her Academic Degree in Music Theory as well as her BA in Music Theory from the Wellesley College in Massachusetts. It was here that she would meet her future husband, Professor of Homiletics, Rev. Ronald E. Sleeth. In her lifetime she earned two honorary Doctorate degrees, one from the West Virginia Wesleyan School (1959), and the second from the Nebraska Wesleyan School (1990, only two years before her death). Her most famous anthem, "Joy in the Morning," was written in 1977 for the West Virginia Wesleyan Chorale on the occasion of her husbands inauguration as President of the University. Although "Joy in the Morning" is her most famous work, her second most famous is "In the Bulb there is a Flower," or "Hymn of Promise."
          Written as an Anthem , "Hymn of Promise" was later dedicated to Sleeth's husband shortly after he was diagnosed with Cancer. After hearing the hymn, Ronald Sleeth requested that the hymn be sung at his funeral. Honoring his wishes, the piece was performed at the funeral, being the only piece written by Natalie Sleeth to be sung at the ceremony. The anthem was written for Pasadena Community Church, in St. Petersburg, Florida, where it was first sung and performed in 1985 under the direction of C. Fredrick Harrison. This hymn was very popular in the United Church of Canada Hymnal; Voices United (published in 1996), as well as in the United Methodist Church Hymnal (published in 1989). The text for the hymn comes from Sleeth's pondering the opposition of Spring and Winter, as well as the opposition in a line found in a T.S. Elliott poem reading as follows "In the end is our beginning."

The Text:

1) In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

2) There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

3) In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

My Take on the Hymn:

          God is a very mysterious man. He knows everything that goes on, as well as everything that will happen. Knowing the future is a knowledge that everyone seeks, but no one can seem to get a firm grasp on it. The only person who knows for sure what is going to happen in the future, is God himself. The first verse of this hymn is a wonderful reminder of this, especially in the final line "Unrevealed until its season, something God along can see." This reminds us that in the right time, things will be revealed to us by God, but until that moment, we must be patient with God and know that he has something planned for us. This hymn seems to focus on opposites, but only that within each negative, there is a positive, or within something we cannot yet see, there is a promise of something good to come.  The last verse talks about the end of our life, but in a way that shows there is a place greater than our earthly home waiting for us. In our death, we will still conquer the grave and join the multitude of angels in Heaven above! Though this hymn is usually sung at funerals, I feel that it has more of a meaning to it when placed in a position of dealing with the anxieties of uncertainty. 
         Being in college is a wonderful time, but there are certain things, such as the future, that cause students anxiety. What will I do next? Where am I supposed to go now? How do I know I am in the right Field? All of these questions cross every college students mind, but the answer is rarely found when we want to find it. God always has something planned for us, whether we know it or not, or whether we believe it or not, He really does. God even tells us this in Jeremiah 29: 11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Seeking for information about your future can be equated to trying to find the person you are supposed to fall in love with. If you spend so much of your time looking for the person, or in this case the career, you are supposed to be with, then you will not find them/it. The only thing that searching does is cause anxiety and cause you to miss out on the wonderful things that God has placed in front of you every day. One of the difficult things that God asks us to do is to let go of everything that is holding us back. If we stop looking for what it is we are supposed to be doing and start doing what it is we love, we will not only find God, but we will find ourselves to be better off and to be doing what God has intended us to do in order that we may worship Him and spread his Glorious Word! 

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video and follow along!


Pedai, Wiki. "PROMISE (Sleeth)." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <>.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Abide with Me

Here is another hymn! This one goes out to a good friend of mine, Brianna. I hope you enjoy this and that you will share with others!

Title: Abide with Me

Tune: Eventide

Meter: 10, 10, 10, 10

Composer: William H. Monk (1823-1889)

Author: Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847)

                Born in Ednam, Scotland, near Kelso in 1793 to Captain Thomas Lyte, Henry Lyte was orphaned at a child. Though he was never physically strong, Lyte was a smart scholar, studying at the Royal School of Enniskillen, and eventually at Trinity College in Dublin. During his studies, he earned the esteemed English Prize Poem three times and was thought to have intentions to go off to Medical School to become a doctor. In 1814, when Lyte graduated from Trinity College, he abandoned his ambitions of Medical School and instead studied Theology, taking his first holy orders in 1815 and began his first Curacy in the neighborhood of Wexford in 1817. In 1818, after having removed himself to Marazion in Cornwall, he underwent a great spiritual change that lead to Lyte’s whole view of the afterlife being changed (this can be attributed to the death of his fellow Clergyman). In 1819, Lyte moved to Lymington, where he composed his Tales on the Lord’s Prayer which was written in verse and published in 1826. In 1823, he was appointed the Perpetual Curate of Lower Brixham, Devon, which he held until his death in 1847.
                Though there are two stories about the creation of this hymn, the one that has held the most merit (or has been contested the least), is that Lyte wrote “Abide with Me” towards the end of his life. The text first appeared in a letter written August 25th 1847, in which Lyte called it his “Latest Effusion (Westermeyer, p. 473).” After his last sermon and Eucharist on Sunday September 14th, 1847, given in Lower Brixham, Devon, he resigned from the church because of health problems, and he gave the text to a relative with a tune that he had composed for it. The first time the text appeared was in Lyte’s  Remains  which was published posthumously in 1850. It is generally accepted that the text for “Abide with Me” comes from the bible verse Luke 24: 29, which is the Emmaus story, reading as follows:  “Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” Because of this, the hymn is generally mistaken for a hymn that is to be sung at evening, when in reality, the eventide mentioned in the text is a strong metaphor for the ending of the life of a human.
                Just as it was for the hymn, there are two stories about how the tune “Eventide” came to be. The first story is that William H. Monk wrote the tune in ten minutes, after it came to the realization that there was no tune for the hymn, during a committee meeting for the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) where the tune first appeared paired with the text. The second account was given by William Monk’s widow, who claims the tune was written during a great time of sorrow, with her by his side while they watched the sun go down. Wesley Milgate states that the two stories may hold merit by a “committee meeting” at Monk’s home with his co-editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, Henry W. Baker, who was a frequent visitor to Monk’s home, especially to discuss the project. Though Lyte had written a tune for the piece himself, Monk’s “Eventide” has stayed with the piece throughout its life, marking this one of Monk’s “most characteristic tunes,” (Westermeyer, p. 475). Though Monk was known to have written many tunes throughout his career, his works were known as “to order” for specific texts, and they only served the purpose for the texts and then faded after a short time, being almost” distractingly dull,” (Westermeyer, p. 475).  In most hymnals now, three of the eight verses are omitted, leaving the hymn with five short verses.

The Text:

  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
  5. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
    Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

My Take on the Hymn:

                This hymn is one of honor and praise to Christ. The text often asks the question, who else can help me through my times of trials? God has a great love for all of us, and sometimes he asks us to turn to Him through our troubles. This hymn reminds us that we have no power of the grip of temptation if we don’t have the grace of God. God’s grace is the greatest gift we can see every day, and it was by his grace that we were given Jesus on the Cross. In stanza four, I feel that the voice of the text becomes almost challenging and boisterous. With God on our side, we needn't have any fear or anxieties, because through Christ, everything will be taken care of, and nothing, not even death, will have power over us!

The Hymn:

Julian, John. "Henry Francis Lyte." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <>.
Westermeyer, Paul. "Abide with Me, #629." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 473-75. Print.
"Abide with Me, #629." Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006. 629. Print.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Come to Me, All Pilgrims Thirsty

Here comes another Hymn, this one comes with a tie to St. Cloud Minnesota, a place in which I enjoy visiting on occasion (the Benton County Fair being one of them!)!

Title: Come to Me, All Pilgrims Thirsty

Tune: Beach Spring


Composer: Benjamin Franklin White (September 20th, 1800-December 5th, 1879)

Author: Delores Dufner (B. 1939)

                Sister Delores Dufner, a member of the Benedictine Sisters, is one of the best known hymn composers in the world today. She has had hymns published in over twenty different hymnals, including hymnals printed in Australia, Canada, and England. She first performed this hymn in 1982, paired with a tune composed by Jay F. Hunstiger, in St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud Minnesota. The hymn was performed as a communion song at the annual Chrism Mass, when the Bishop with bless the oils used in the sacraments such as Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination, and in the anointing of the sick. The hymn was first published with Hunstiger’s tune in the 1989 publication of The Order of Christian Funerals: Funeral Mass (Collegeville). “Come to Me, All Pilgrims Thirsty,” also appeared in the 1997 Schiller Park hymnal We Celebrate, where the revised version of the first three stanza’s were paired with the tune “Holy Manna (see hymns “God Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens,” and “All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly.”)” which is also seen in People’s Mass Book (Schiller Park, 2003). The Hymn has been seen in England under the title “Jesus, Ever-Flowing Fountain,” With a setting by Australian composer, Rosalie Bonighton, which was published in several different hymnals, including the Chinese Christian Literature Council Bilingual Hymns of Universal Praise (2006).
                One advantage of researching a hymn composed by someone who is still living is that we get to hear the reasons the composer has for writing the hymn.
“This text was inspired primarily by the lengthy dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). I have always loved this account of the assertive woman who dared to challenge Jesus. When she questioned him about his request for a drink, he responded ‘If you only knew what God is offering…’ Jesus’ words to her might well be addressed to each of us: if we really understood the good that God wants to do for us, we would come to Christ gladly and freely to find life, refreshment, and forgiveness. These gifts are offered in a special way at the Eucharistic table.
I drew on two other scripture texts for this hymn. The first is John 7:37-39, in which Jesus cries out, ‘let anyone who is thirsty come to me and let the one who believes in me drink.’ The second is Matthew 11:28-30, in which Jesus invites the weary and heavily burdened to come to him for rest, ‘for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
Because the words of the stanzas are Jesus’ and the words of the refrain are our response, I suggest that they be sung by different groups, e.g., stanzas by choir and refrain by congregation, or stanzas by women and refrain by men.” (Westermeyer, p 644), (See bibliography #1).
                The tune “Beach Spring” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin White, who with the help of Elisha J. King, published The Sacred Harp (Philadelphia, 1844), where it was sung with the text of “Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched.” Named after the Beach Spring Baptist Church in Harris County, Georgia, the church was given its name because of its close proximity to “two beech trees at a spring…(Westermeyer, p. 269).” Although the original spelling of the name should be “Beech,” White’s misspelling “Beach,” has stuck with the hymn throughout the ages. White was mostly a self-taught singing school teacher from South Carolina. Eventually he moved to Hamilton in Harris County, Georgia, where he worked at many different vocations, including a stint in the Georgia Militia. Eventually White married Thurza Golightly, and together the two had 14 children (the same number of children that White’s parents had).  At some point along the timeline of Benjamin Franklin White’s history, a rumor was started that he worked closely with William Walker (who was his brother-in-law) to publish Southern Harmonies, but this rumor was probably not true.  The two books were wildly popular in the south, but both contained the same southern white spirituals which were popular in the more rural areas. In the 20th century, the tunes from The Sacred Harp, and Southern Harmonies entered into more denominational hymnals and inspired many different composers to arrange the melodies in various ways. The Sacred Harp is one of the most used books in the four-shape notation, and has gone through numerous editions that have been published throughout the years, and even to the present days.

The Text:

V1. “Come to me, all pilgrims thirsty;
Drink the water I will give.
If you knew what gift I offer,
You would come to me and live.”
Refrain. Jesus, Ever flowing fountain,
Give us water from your well.
In the gracious gift you offer
There is joy no tongue can tell.
V2.  “Come to me, all trav’lers weary;
Come that I may give you rest.
Drink the cup of life I offer;
At this table be my guest.”
V3.  “Come to me, believers burdened;
Find refreshment in this place.
Come, receive the gift I offer,
Turn to me and seek my face.”
V4. “Come to me, repentant sinners;
Leave behind your guilt and shame.
Come and know divine compassion,
Turn to me, I call your name.”

My Take on the Hymn:
                This hymn is a wonderful reminder that Christ does not care what you have done in the past, but rather what you will do from this point forward. Jesus says to us in John 4, “If you only knew what God is offering…” which speaks volumes to the world today. If people only knew the love that Christ has for us, and the love that is waiting for us, the ecstatic crowds of people running to Christ would be incredible.  Christ is calling us, and he is calling us today. In stanza 1, Christ invites us all to the fountain of life, and he also tells us that if we but only open our eyes to the gift that he is giving us, we will turn and run to him. Stanza 2 really references Matthew 11: 28-30, by telling us that if we are weary, we should come to Christ and leave all of our struggles with Him. Being a college student- with all of the stress that accompanies mid-terms, juries, friends, time management, as well as everything else that goes on in life- Christ wants to take it for us, he is there to give us a break. Stanza 3 reminds us that it isn’t easy being a follower if Christ. As followers of Christ, we find ourselves going against the grain of society, and doing what we think is right, not always what is popular, and there lies the challenge. Whatever those challenges may be, God is there to help you through them and to refresh you every time you partake in the receiving of communion (or the Eucharist for those who are Catholic). Stanza 4 is my favorite, this is the verse that tells us to turn away from ourselves and turn to Christ. We have all sinned, and we all have shame to bare, but through Christ, our sins are forgiven, and we no longer need to carry the burden of shame! Christ calls us to be with Him, because he loves us no matter the life we have lived up to the day we turn to Him. There is no better time than right now to turn away from the life you are leading now, and to follow Christ!

The Hymn:
Unfortunately I was not able to find music for this hymn. At a later point I will have an update with the music, as soon as I can get over to the Library to use the scanner! But, in the meantime, here is the youtube video.

Westermeyer, Paul. "Hymn No. 777." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 269+. Print.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Be Still, My Soul

Here is another hymn! This one goes out to a good friend, and a very talented woman (who also happens to have a birthday today), Morgan. I hope you enjoy and have a good Birthday!

Title: Be Still, My Soul

Tune: Finlandia


Composer: Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

Author: Kathrina Von Schlegel (1697-c. 1797), Translated by: Jane Borthwick (1813-1897)

                Though this hymn is very popular and famous, there is very little known about Katherin Von Schlegel, other than she didn’t write many hymns, and the only one to have been translated from German to English, was in fact, “Be Still, My Soul.” Born in 1697, Von Schlegel was known to be the "Stiftsfräulein" in the Evangelical Lutheran Stift (similar to a protestant nunnery) at Cothen. All though she was involved with the courts in Cothen, her name did not appear in the records, but by word of mouth it is known that she was involved there. “Stille, meine wille, dein Jesus Hilft siegen” appeared in 1752 and contained six stanza’s with six lines each, and later it was published again in 1837 in Knapp’s Evangelischer Lieder-Schatz. The translation, written by Jane Borthwick, maintained much of the original text (but Borthwick omitted the third stanza), and was published in Borthwick’s 1855 Hymns from the Land of Luther, 2nd series (there were four editions, 1st series, 1854; 2nd, 1855; 3rd 1858; 4th, 1862). More is known about Jane Borthwick than of Kathrina Von Schlegel.  Jane Borthwick was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to James Borthwick, who was the manager of the North British Insurance Office in Edinburgh. She began translating many of the hymns from German in to her hymnal in 1854, but was also known for having written some prose of her own. She published most of her works in the 1857 collection Thoughts for Thoughtful hours.  In 1875 she published a selection of poems translated from Meta Heusser-Schweizer, under the title of Alpine Lyrics, which were included in the 1884 edition of the Hymns from the Land of Luther.
                The tune, “Finlandia” was originally composed by Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius, as part of a larger work aimed at supporting the Finnish press against Russian oppression in 1899. Originally composed as one of Six Tableaux in a work for the pageant, Sibelius took the last Tableau and rewrote it as an orchestral tone poem, naming it “Finlandia.” The Chorale-like opening to the tone poem is most commonly used for the hymnal. The tune was first used in the Scottish Hymnal in 1927, and was used later in the Presbyterian Hymnal in 1933. Though the melody is simple, it is difficult for most congregations to maintain a steady tempo with all the stops and rests in the melody, which requires great leadership from the organist.  Sibelius began his musical career by studying piano and violin, and at one point in his life, he considered becoming a Concert Violinist. Although Sibelius may have been successful as a Violinist, he began his compositional career at the age of ten. Much like Beethoven, Sibelius used each of his seven symphonies to build his musical styling’s. In 1897, Sibelius received a pension for life from the Finnish Government, allowing him to travel all around Europe from 1900 until the beginning of World War I. He was famous for conducting his own pieces, and was well received when he came to visit the United States of America in 1914. Though Sibelius did not compose any works in the final 26 years of his life, he did maintain a well-founded reputation from  the works he had done earlier in his career.

The Text:

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

My Take on the Hymn:
This is one of my favorite tunes to sing in church, especially because both my Father and I enjoy Jean Sibelius (at one point in my musical career, I won a piano competition by performing Sibelius’ Romance in Db) and we can always have a good laugh because we both know Sibelius well. This hymn is very powerful in the words it uses to tell us to sit back and relax, everything will be okay because God has your best interests in mind. God has a plan for us, and sometimes that is very difficult to see and to accept, but we as Christians should attempt to gain peace of mind through scripture, and time of prayer with Christ. In Matthew 6: 25-34, Jesus tells us not neither to worry about the days ahead nor to worry about the little things in life, God has us taken care of. To paraphrase some of what C.S. Lewis says in his book,  A Grief Observed, if we stop focusing on God and instead focus on the pain and the sorrows of everyday life, we will struggle every day to see the happiness that is promised to us all. If God maintains his position of the focus for our lives, everything else will fall in to place, leaving our souls at peace!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the youtube video and follow along!

and just because this one is one of my favorite versions:

Julian, John, and Psalter Hymnal Handbook. "Be Still, My Soul." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <>.


Monday, October 1, 2012

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Here is another post, sorry for the delay, but school work is just as important. This is my first hymn with my new book, the Hymnal Companion for the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Hymnal. 

Title: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Tune: Herzlich Tut Mich Verlangen

Meter: 76.76. D

Composer: 16th century German Melody, Adapt. Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), Arr. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Author: Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), Based on Arnulf of Louvain, d. 1250 (attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153)

                Paul Gerhardt was born in Grayfenhaynischen, Germany in 1607, which is a small town just outside of Wittenberg. When he was 21 years old, Gerhardt began school at the University of Wittenberg, where he stayed until he was 35 years old. It was the year 1642 and Gerhardt was said to have left Wittenberg to go to Berlin to be a tutor for a number of years in the house of the Advocate Andreas Barthold, where he met his wife Anna Maria (they married in 1655), who was the daughter of Barthold. During his time in Berlin, he began to preach around the area and eventually, he accepted a call in 1651 to be the Lutheran Probst (head Pastor) and Mittenwalde, near Berlin, which was received after a glowing recommendation was given by the Berlin Clergy. Gerhardt remained at his post in Mittenwalde until 1657, when he returned to Berlin to work as the third Diaconus of St. Nicholas’s Church in Berlin. After changing his position in the church, Gerhardt ran in to political trouble with the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (who was a member of the reformed church), and the Berlin Clergy. This political unrest would cause Gerhardt to be deposed of his position in the church in 1666, but he would return to work in the church once again as the Archdiaconus of Lubben in 1669 and remained there for the rest of his life. Though Gerhardt’s life was not a stable one, with the loss of four children (only one of his five survived past infancy), the death of his wife during the few years he was unemployed in Berlin, and a calling in Lubben that was less than supportive of his preaching, he was still known as one of the greatest Lutheran hymn writers next to Luther himself.
                The hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” is a lesson in translations by itself. The history of this hymn begins back in the late 16th century when the traditional language was Latin. Eventually, however, thanks to the work of one Martin Luther, the Catholic Church was reformed and no longer had control over the mass (which was traditionally done in Latin, so no one, besides those who were educated, could understand the mass), and the German language became more commonly used in the mass settings, but, was also being used in a new form of worship which would later be called “Lutheran.” Later, as the Lutheran Church grew more and more popular, the language had to be changed once again, this time from German to English. The original text to this hymn can be found in the Opera Omnia, attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, though it is attributed to him with an asterisk of sorts. The Opera Omnia is often times attributed to another man as well, Arnulf of Louvain, but it has never been proven with complete certainty who wrote the text. Though the text does not have a known “author” to speak of, but it has been read and translated by several people. The text for this hymn is a small part of a larger work that would later come to be part of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
 “Salve, mundi salutare” was originally called Rhythmica Oratio ad Unum Quodlibet Membrorum Christi Patientis et a Cruce Pendentis which loosely translates to “Rhythmic Prayer to the Various Members of Christ’s Body Suffering and Hanging on the Cross.” This text had seven sections for each day of the week before Easter Sunday, or more commonly known as Holy Week. Each section was supposed to represent a different part of Christ’s body and was written in the following order: feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and Face. Each section was a stanza containing ten five-line stanzas of eight syllables each (Westermeyer, 155), with the exception of the last stanza, which contained fourteen five-line stanzas of eight syllables (Westermeyer, 155). Finally, we come to the point at which Paul Gerhardt comes into contact with the text to translate. The Work was set to music in the form of seven cantatas called Membra Jesu Nostri, which was written by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), who came in contact with a young J.S. Bach. The last cantata, or “Salve caput cruentatum,” in Latin, “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,” in German and “O Sacred Head,” contains ten stanzas and is considered to be the most well-known of all the cantatas. The final stanza was published in the 1656 collection Praxis Pietatis Melica, by Johann Cruger, and was translated to English and published by James Waddell Alexander (1804-1859) in The Christian Lyre (Published in New York, 1831). The Translation used in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship uses a translation relying heavily on the version translated by Waddell.
The tune “Herzlich Tut Mich Verlangen” was originally paired with this text in 1656 when it was published in Praxis Pietatis Melica, which gave it a second name, Passion Chorale, though it was not paired with a sacred text until it was published with the funeral text of Cristoph Knoll in 1613 after the death of the composer. The tune was composed originally as a court song, written by the Renaissance composer, Hans Leo Hassler, and was published in his collection Lustgarten Neuer teutscher Gesang (published in 1601). The tune was also used along with a serious text based on the penitential psalm, Psalm 6, published in 1625 (Ach, Herr, mich armen Sunder,).  Hassler was well known for composing several different collections of German Motets (1591 and 1601), as well as chorale motets, Psalmen und christliche Gesänge (1607), and a collection of simpler hymn settings, Kirchengesänge, Psalmen und geistliche Lieder (1608).Hassler was known for being a Lutheran composer, but was known to have written several hymns for the Roman Catholic Church.
Hassler took a step towards bridging the gap between “Sacred,” and “Serious Secular,” music.  The original tune had a five part setting as a love song to “Maria”- “Mein G’must ist mir verwirret, das macht ein Jungrau zart” (“My heart is all excited, a sweet young maid is near”)-whose name was spelled out in an acrostic by the first letter of each stanza of the text (Westermeyer, p 157). Though this hymn is usually sang as a congregational hymn, it was composed in two different manners, one in a rhythmic pattern, and one with an isometric pattern. Though the rhythmic version is most commonly used version and was composed first. The isometric versions of chorales usually lack rhythmic interest, but contain many different examples of harmonic interest. One such occurrence of the isometric version is founded from a section of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, which turns the hymn into a chorale type as opposed to a congregational hymn.  Another very uncommon use of the tune came from Paul Simon, who used it for his “American Tune,” after Art Garfunkel introduced it to him through one of Bach’s harmonizations.

The Text:
1.            O sacred Head, now wounded,
                with grief and shame weighed down,
                now scornfully surrounded
                with thorns, thine only crown:
                how pale thou art with anguish,
                with sore abuse and scorn!
                How does that visage languish
                which once was bright as morn!

2.            What thou, my Lord, has 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.

3.            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 for thee.

My Take on the Hymn:
                This hymn is a very stark reminder of what Christ sacrificed for us, so that we may live a life free of sin and free of the grasp the death maintains on those who fear the grave. The hymn does not use any allusions, but is rather strait forward in saying that Christ was shamed by us and was punished for and by our sins. Christ’s love for us is incredible, not only because he bore the cross for us, but because even in the darkest moment of his life, the moment when we shouted for Christ to be crucified, he thought of us and asked God to forgive is, for we did not know what we were doing. God’s love is never failing, and the fact the He sent his only son to the cross so that we may live free only augments the reality of His love for us.

The Hymn:
If you can't read music, just click on the youtube link and follow along!


"O Sacred Head Now Wounded." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2012. <>.

Westermeyer, Paul. "Holy Week." Evangelical Lutheran Worship Hymnal Companion. Ed. Paul Westermeyer. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 155-57. Print.

"Holy Week." Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress, 2006. 351. Print.