O Sacred Head Surrounded

Representative Text

1 O sacred Head surrounded
By crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded,
Reviled and put to scorn!
The pow'r of death comes o'er you,
The glow of life decays,
Yet angel hosts adore you
And tremble as they gaze.

2 I see your strength and vigor
All fading in the strife,
And death with cruel rigor,
Bereaving you of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn your face on me.

3 In this, your bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
With your most sweet compassion,
Unworthy though I be:
Beneath your cross abiding
For ever would I rest,
In your dear love confiding,
And with your presence blest.

Source: RitualSong (2nd ed.) #598

Author (attributed to): Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux, saint, abbot, and doctor, fills one of the most conspicuous positions in the history of the middle ages. His father, Tecelin, or Tesselin, a knight of great bravery, was the friend and vassal of the Duke of Burgundy. Bernard was born at his father's castle on the eminence of Les Fontaines, near Dijon, in Burgundy, in 1091. He was educated at Chatillon, where he was distinguished for his studious and meditative habits. The world, it would be thought, would have had overpowering attractions for a youth who, like Bernard, had all the advantages that high birth, great personal beauty, graceful manners, and irresistible influence could give, but, strengthened in the resolve by night visions of his mother (who had died in 1… Go to person page >

Translator: H. W. Baker

Baker, Sir Henry Williams, Bart., eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker, born in London, May 27, 1821, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated, B.A. 1844, M.A. 1847. Taking Holy Orders in 1844, he became, in 1851, Vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire. This benefice he held to his death, on Monday, Feb. 12, 1877. He succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1851. Sir Henry's name is intimately associated with hymnody. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, "Oh! what if we are Christ's," which he contributed to Murray's Hymnal for the Use of the English Church, 1852. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 33 in all. These were cont… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O sacred head surrounded By crown of piercing thorn
Title: O Sacred Head Surrounded
Latin Title: Salve caput cruentatum
Author (attributed to): Bernard of Clairvaux
Translator: H. W. Baker (1861)
Meter: D
Language: English
Notes: Although the Psalter Hymnal Handbook states that Sir H. W. Baker revised James Waddell Alexander's "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" which was an English translation of Gerhardt's "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" which was a German translation of "Salve caput cruentatum", it appears that "O Sacred Head Surrounded" is a translation from the Latin (See "A Historical Companion to Hymns Ancient and Modern," edited by Moorsom, 1889 in which Baker translated other texts from Latin)- Dianne Shapiro
Copyright: Public Domain



The tune HERZLICH TUT MICH VERLANGEN has been associated with Gerhardt's text ["O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden"] since they were first published together in 1656. The tune's first association with a sacred text was its attachment in 1913 [sic: should read 1613] to Christoph Knoll's funeral text "Herzl…

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Instances (1 - 29 of 29)
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Hymns Ancient and Modern, New Standard Edition #68

Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #139

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Journeysongs (2nd ed.) #409

Journeysongs (3rd ed.) #383

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RitualSong (2nd ed.) #598

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The Cyber Hymnal #12078

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Worship (3rd ed.) #434

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Worship (4th ed.) #489

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