Saturday, March 15, 2008

O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded

Tonight I played guitar at our Saturday evening church service, even though there is really no such thing as Palm Sunday eve. We closed the service with "O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded," which to those of you who follow such things is basically the same tune used by Paul Simon to such wonderful effect in his song "American Tune."

Verses one and two of the song from the Episcopal Hymnal goes like this:
O sacred head, sore wounded,
defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
the hosts of heaven adore!

Thy beauty, long-desirèd,
hath vanished from our sight;
thy power is all expirèd,
and quenched the light of light.
Ah me! for whom thou diest,
hide not so far thy grace:
show me, O Love most highest,
the brightness of thy face.

The melody, of course, was arranged from a secular love song by J. S. Bach. And though I may have done this before, here's Paul using a variation of the melody to perform his paean to the uncertainty and weariness we have all felt at one time. This song... I can't help but wonder at the timelessness of the message of this song in light of the situation in America right now. I will be honest: this version coexists with the hymn in the jukebox of my mind.

Let us all dedicate ourselves to a Holy Week that reminds us of God's love for us.

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