O Sacred Head

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

The man we know as Bernard of Clairvaux is thought to have been born in 1091 in his father’s castle near Dijon, Burgundy, France. A well-educated man, he developed a passion for poetry and literature, inspired by his love for the Bible. He lived in a difficult, complex time during which the church was filled with divisions and disputes. Yet Bernard gained respect as a man of integrity and piety. Writing in the 16th century, Martin Luther called him “the best monk who ever lived.”

It’s said that around 1153, Bernard wrote a hymn about the death of Jesus. We know this hymn largely because of the German language translation of Paul Gerhardt. The version commonly sung in English (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”) was translated by James Alexander in 1830.

This hymn focuses on Jesus as He suffered and died for our sins. We witness His “sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down.” Adorned only with a crown of thorns, we see Him, “pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!” He was sinless, yet went through “deadly pain” and died in our place, for we were the ones who committed transgressions.

If we think about Jesus’ sacrifice, words can’t express all that we owe to Him. Bernard wrote: “What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend?” In gratitude, we need to be “His forever.” Our prayer must be that we “never, never outlive” our love for Him.

Today, remember all that Jesus has done for you. Worship Him! Live for Him! And tell others about His sacrificial love.