480. Jesus, the Very Thought of You

1 Jesus, the very thought of you
fills us with sweet delight,
but sweeter far your face to view
and rest within your light.

2 No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
nor can the memory find
a sweeter sound than your blest name,
O Savior of mankind!

3 O Hope of every contrite heart,
O Joy of all the meek,
how kind you are to those who fall,
how good to those who seek!

4 But what to those who find? Ah, this
no tongue or pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is
none but his loved ones know.

Text Information
First Line: Jesus, the very thought of you
Title: Jesus, the Very Thought of You
Translator: Edward Caswall (1849, alt.)
Meter: CM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Love: God's Love to Us; Redemption; Hope (1 more...)
Source: Latin, 12th cent
Tune Information
Composer: John B. Dykes (1866)
Meter: CM
Key: G Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Eph. 3:19

The extended (forty-two stanzas) Latin poem 'Jesu, dulcis memo¬ria" is the source of this text (see discussion at PHH 307, which includes its traditional attribution to Bernard of Clairveaux). Although some scholars believe the poem was written by Bernard, others suggest that it originated in Britain at the end of the twelfth century. Most agree, however, that the poem's fervor was influenced by the famous Bernard. The English text is taken from a fifty-stanza translation by Edward Caswall (PHH 438) published in his Lyra Catholica (1849), where the opening line read “Jesu, the very thought of Thee.”

Displaying a passionate devotion to Christ, the text provides a clear hint of its original use as a text for personal devotion. Its focus is entirely on Christ and his saving love, a love that gives hope, joy, and rest to believers (st. 1,3), a love that excels any human love (st. 2, 4).

Liturgical Use:
Worship that focuses on Christ's redemptive work; Lord's Supper; Lent.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

John B. Dykes (PHH 147) composed ST. AGNES for this text. Dykes named the tune after a young Roman Christian woman who was martyred in A.D. 304 during the reign of Diocletian. St. Agnes was sentenced to death for refusing to marry a nobleman to whom she said, "I am already engaged to Christ, to Him alone I keep my troth." The tune was published in John Grey's Hymnal for Use in the English Church (1866).

ST. AGNES is a simple tune, best sung in two long lines and in harmony. To encourage meditation on the text (as was the practice with its Latin original), consider having the congregation follow the text of stanza 2 ("No voice can sing") without singing, but simply listening to it as played by the organ.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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