I wish to share a hymn today that embodies all that Good Friday means to me, but I’m torn between several that capture all the emotions of this day–the loss, grief and sorrow, as well as the mercy, grace, and love. I narrowed it down to two, the first by Bernard of Clairvaux of the 12th century, the other by Issac Watts, from the 18th century. Both are as chilling and timeless as the work of the cross itself.
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
O Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and pain weigh’d down
How scornfully surrounded with thorns Thy only crown!
How pale art Thou with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn.
How does that visage languish which once was bright as morn!
O Lord of life and glory what bliss till now was Thine!
I read the wondrous story, I joy to call Thee mine.
Thy grief and Thy compassion were all for sinners gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
What language shall I borrow to praise Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
Lord, make me Thine forever, no let me faithless prove;
Oh let me never, never abuse such dying love!
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count by loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God,
All the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow, meet or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine that were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so diving, demands my soul, my life, my all.