Jerusalem the Golden

Representative Text

1 Jerusalem the golden,
with milk and honey blest,
beneath your contemplation
sink heart and voice oppressed;
I know not, O I know not
what joys await me there,
what radiancy of glory,
what bliss beyond compare!

2 They stand, those halls of Zion,
all jubilant with song,
and bright with many an angel,
and all the martyr throng;
the Prince is ever in them;
the daylight is serene;
the pastures of the blessed
are decked in glorious sheen.

3 There is the throne of David;
and there, from care released,
the shout of those who triumph,
the song of those who feast;
and they, who with their Leader
have conquered in the fight,
forever and forever
are clad in robes of white.

4 O sweet and blessed country,
the home of God's elect!
O sweet and blessed country,
that eager hearts expect!
In mercy, Jesus, bring us
to that dear land of rest,
who are, with God the Father,
and Spirit, ever blessed.

Source: Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #419

Translator: J. M. Neale

John M. Neale's life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly tem­perament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackvi… Go to person page >

Author: Bernard of Cluny

Bernard of Morlaix, or of Cluny, for he is equally well known by both titles, was an Englishman by extraction, both his parents being natives of this country. He was b., however, in France very early in the 12th cent, at Morlaix, Bretagne. Little or nothing is known of his life, beyond the fact that he entered the Abbey of Cluny, of which at that time Peter the Venerable, who filled the post from 1122 to 1156, was the head. There, so far as we know, he spent his whole after-life, and there he probably died, though the exact date of his death, as well as of his birth is unrecorded. The Abbey of Cluny was at that period at the zenith of its wealth and fame. Its buildings, especially its church (which was unequalled by any in France); the serv… Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Rev. 21:1-2, 21
st. 2 = Rev. 21:12-14, 22-25, Rev. 22:1-2
st. 3 = Rev. 22:3-5
st. 4 = Heb. 11:13-16

This hymn was translated from part of a satiric poem of almost three thousand lines, "De Contemptu Mundi" ("the contemptable world"), written around 1145 by the twelfth-century monk Bernard of Cluny. Not to be confused with Bernard of Clairvaux, Bernard of Cluny is thought to have been born in Murles, France, supposedly of English parents. He spent the greater part of his adult life in the famous monastery of Cluny during the time that Peter the Venerable was its abbot (1122-1156). Founded in 910 with high standards of monastic observance, the monastery was wealthy–its abbey, with splendid worship services, was the largest of its time. In the twelfth century there were more than three hundred monasteries that had adopted the Cluny order. During his life Bernard was known for his published sermons and his piety, but his lasting fame rests on "De Contemptu Mundi."

In that poem Bernard applied dactylic hexameter (six groups of triplets) and intricate internal rhyme schemes to satirize the evils of his culture, as well as those of the church and his own monastery. Amazed at his own skill and discipline, Bernard said, "Unless the Spirit of wisdom and understanding had flowed in upon me, I could not have put together so long a work in so difficult a meter." To put sin in sharp relief, Bernard began his poem by focusing on the glories of heaven.

Seven hundred years later Richard C. Trench published the initial stanzas of the Poem, beginning "Urbs Sion aurea, patria lactea," in his Sacred Latin Poetry(1849). John M. Neale (PHH 342) translated this portion of the poem into English and published it in his Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1851). Neale made revisions and additions to his earlier free translation when he published it in his The Rhythm of Bernard (1858). The text found in the Psalter Hymnal is the most popular of the four hymns derived from Neale's translation.

This text "of such rare beauty" (Neale's words) is based on the imagery of the new Jerusalem found in Revelation 21:22. Like the saints described in Hebrews 11:13-16, Christians today long "for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God … has prepared a city for them." As we sing “Jerusalem the Golden,” we yearn for a fulfillment of this vision, for the Lord to come quickly so that we may be a part of "the city of God's presence.”

Liturgical Use:
Any service in which the new creation (as symbolized in the celestial city) is the theme; as a song of comfort and hope; for meditation.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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Baptist Hymnal 1991 #527
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Instances (1 - 37 of 37)
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Baptist Hymnal 1991 #527

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Christian Worship (1993) #214

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Christian Worship (2008) #728

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Christian Worship #889

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Christian Worship #890

Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #670

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Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #747

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Common Praise (1998) #278

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Common Praise #482

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Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #340

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CPWI Hymnal #690

Hymns Ancient and Modern, New Standard Edition #184

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Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #573

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Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise #747

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Hymns Old and New #259

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Hymns to the Living God #337

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Lift Up Your Hearts #488

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Lutheran Service Book #672


Lutheran Worship #309

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Moravian Book of Worship #814

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Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #419

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #618

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Rejoice in the Lord #579

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Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #429

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The A.M.E. Zion Hymnal #574

The Baptist Hymnal #667


The Cyber Hymnal #3448

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The Hymnal 1982 #624


The Irish Presbyterian Hymnbook #656

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The New English Hymnal #381

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The Worshiping Church #754

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Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #539

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Trinity Psalter Hymnal #468

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