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O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.--(Goed. 49.)


A beautiful but very free translation of the "Salve Caput Cruentatum," which is part VII of the "Rhythmica Oratio," 1153, ascribed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux.160160Cf. p. 40 and note. The Latin original follows:

1. Salve, caput cruentatum,
Totum spinis coronatum,
Conquassatum, vulneratum,
Arundine sic verberatum
Facie sputis illita
Salve, cuius dulcis vultus,
Immutatus et incultus
Immutavit suum florem
Totus versus in pallorem
      Quem coeli tremit curia.
2. Omnis vigor atque viror
Hinc recessit, non admiror,
Mors apparet in aspectu,
Totus pendens in defectu,
Attritus aegra macie.
Sic affectus, sic despectus
Propter me sic interfectus,
Peccatori tam indigno
Cum amoris intersigno
      Appare clara facie.
3. In hac tua passione
Me agnosce, pastor bone,
Cuius sumpsi mel ex ore, 87
Haustum lactis ex dulcore
Prae omnibus deliciis,
Non me reum asperneris,
Nec indignum dedigneris
Morte tibi iam vicina
Tuum caput hic acclina,
      In meis pausa brachiis.
4. Tuae sanctae passioni
Me gauderem interponi,
In hac cruce tecum mori
Praesta crucis amatori,
      Sub cruce tua moriar.
Morti tuae iam amarae
Grates ago, Jesu care,
Qui es clemens, pie Deus,
Fac quod petit tuns reus,
Ut absque te non finiar.
5. Dum me mori est necesse,
Noli mihi tune deesse;
In tremenda mortis hora
Veni, Jesu, absque mora,
      Tuere me et libera.
Quum me jubes emigrare,
Jesu care, tune appare;
O amator amplectende,
Temet ipsum tune ostende
In cruce salutifera.

Gerhardt's version appeared in the 1656 ed. of Crü. Praxis, no. 156, in 10 stanzas of 8 lines; thence in Wackernagel: no. 22; Bachmann: no. 54; Unv. L. S.: 1851, no. 109. Cf. Koch, IV, 163; VIII, 47.

In Koch VIII, 47, Lauxmann thus characterizes it:

"Bernard's original is powerful and searching, but Gerhardt's hymn is still more powerful and profound, as redrawn from the deeper spring of evangelical Lutheran, Scriptural, knowledge, and fervency of faith."

Stanza X Lauxmann traces not only to Bernard but to stanza II of "Valet Will ich dir geben" of Herberger, and to Luther's words on the death of his daughter Magdalen "Who thus dies, dies well."

The melody to which the hymn is sung, usually called "Passion Chorale," first appeared in Hans Leo Hassler's "Lustgarten," Nürnberg, 1601, set to a love song, beginning "Mein G'müth ist mir verwirret."

The hymn has often been signally blessed. The story is told that a Roman Catholic from Bohemia on hearing this hymn sung in a Protestant church was so overpowered that he shed tears of joy, for he saw clearer than ever 88 his own sin and the Savior's grace; he understood better than ever the secret of justification by faith alone, and he became from that time a true evangelical Christian. Frederick William I., King of Prussia from 1713 to 1740, the father of Frederick the Great, ordered in his will that at his funeral this hymn should be played by the band. For other incidents connected with this hymn cf. Th. Kübler: Historical notes to the Lyra Germanica, London, 1865.

The English versions are many, and of some of the versions there are several centos:

1. O Head so full of bruises.

In full, by J. Gambold, in Some other Hymns and Poems, London, 1752, p. 12. Repeated in the Moravian H. Book, 1754, pt. 1, no. 222 (1789 greatly altered). In the 1789 ed. a new translation of stanza IX was substituted for Gambold's version, his translation of stanza IX "When I shall gain permission" being given as a separate hymn.

Centos of the above version are:

a. "O Head, so pierced and wounded" in Dr. Pagenstecher's Collection, 1864.

b. "O Christ! what consolation" in the Amer. Bapt. H. Bk., 1871.

c. "I yield Thee thanks unfeigned" (based on Gambold's version of stanza IX) in E. Bickersteth's Christian Psalmody, 1833.

d. "I give Thee thanks unfeigned" in Bishop Ryle's Collection, 1860.

2. O Sacred Head! now wounded.

A very beautiful translation by Dr. J. W. Alexander. His translations of stanzas I, II, IV, VII-X, were first published in the Christian Lyre, N. Y., 1830, no. 136. These stanzas were revised, and translations of stanzas III, VI, were added by Dr. Alexander for Schaff's Deutscher Kirchenfreund, 1849, p. 91. The full text is in Dr. Alexander's Breaking Crucible, N. Y., 1861, p. 7; in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869; and the Cantate Domino, Boston, U. S. A., 1850.161161[Alt. in The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941, #172.[ In his note Dr. Schaff says:

"This classical hymn has shown an imperishable vitality in passing from the Latin into the German, and from the German into the English, and proclaiming in three tongues, and in the name of three Confessions--the Catholic, the Lutheran, and the Reformed--with equal effect, the dying love of our Savior and our boundless indebtedness to Him."

Dr. Alexander's version has passed into very many English and American hymnals, and in very varying centos, some of which follow:

a. "O sacred Head, now wounded," People's H., 1867; Hymnary, 1872; Hatfield's Church H. Bk., 1872; Hymns and Songs of Praise, N. Y., 1874, etc.

b. "O Sacred Head! once wounded" (stanza I altered), Bapt. Ps. and Hys., 1858, etc.

c. "O Sacred Head, sore wounded" (stanza I altered), in the Stoke Hymn Book, 1878.

d. "O Sacred Head, so wounded" (stanza I altered), in J. L. Porter's Collection, 1876.


e. "O blessed Christ, once wounded" (stanza I altered), in Dr. Thomas's Augustine H. Book, 1866.

f. "O Lamb of God, once wounded" (stanza I altered), in Scottish Presb. Hyl., 1876.

g. "O Lamb of God, sore wounded" (stanza I altered), in the Ibrox Hymnal, 1871.

3. Ah! Head, so pierced and wounded.

A good translation by R. Massie, omitting stanza VI, in his Lyra Domestica, 1864, p. 14. This version was abridged in Mercer's Oxford edition, 1864, and in Kennedy, 1863. A cento of this beginning with stanza VIII, line 5, "Oh! that Thy cross may ever," appears in J. H. Wilson's Series of Praise, 1865.

4. Ah wounded Head, that bearest.

Miss Winkworth, omitting stanza VI, in her C. B. for England, 1863, no. 51.

5. Oh! bleeding head, and wounded.

J. Kelly, 1867, p. 59.

6. Ah wounded Head! must Thou.

Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Ger., 1855, p. 80.

7. Thou pierced and wounded brow.

Miss Dunn, 1857, p. 39.

8. O Head. blood-stained and wounded.

In the Schaff-Gilman Lib. of Religious Poetry, translated by Samuel M. Jackson, 1873, 1880. This version is among those that adhere most closely to the original, at the same time showing traces of the Latin of Bernard.

9. O sacred Head, surrounded
      By crown of piercing thorn!

A translation in 3 stanzas by Sir H. W. Baker of stanzas I, III, VII, and X, in the Schaff-Gilman Lib. of Religious Poetry.

10. Oh, wounded head and bleeding.

A good translation omitting stanzas II, III, V, IX, by Miss Margarete Münsterberg in her Harvest of German Verse, 1916.

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