O Haupt, voll Blut und Wunden

Representative Text

1 O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,
voll Schmerz und voller Hohn,
o Haupt, zum Spott gebunden
mit einer Dornenkron',
o Haupt, sonst schön gezieret
mit höchster Ehr' und Zier,
jetzt aber hochst schimpfieret:
gegrüßet sei'st du mir!

2 Du edles Angesichte,
davor sonst schrickt und scheut,
das große Weltgewichte,
wie bist du so bespeit!
Wie bist du so erbleichet!
Wer hat dein Augenlicht,
dem sonst kein Licht nicht gleichet,
so schändlich zugericht't?

3 Die Farbe deiner Wangen,
der rothen Lippen Pracht
ist hin, und ganz vergangen;
des blassen Todes Macht
hat alles hingenommen,
hat alles hingerafft,
und daher bist du kommen
von deines Leibes Kraft.

4 Nun, was du, Herr, erduldet,
ist alles meine Last;
ich hab' es selbst verschuldet,
was du getragen hast.
Schau' her, hie steh' ich Armer,
der Zorn verdienet hat;
gib mir, o mein Erbarmer,
den Anblick deiner Gnad'!

5 Erkenne mich, mein Hüter,
mein Hirte nimm mich an!
Von dir, Quell aller Güter,
ist mir viel Gut's getan.
Dein Mund hat mich gelabet
mit Milch und süsser Kost;
dein Geist hat mich begabet
mit mancher Himmelslust.

6 Ich will hier bei dir stehen,
verachte mich doch nicht!
Von dir will ich nicht gehen,
wenn dir dein Herze bricht;
wenn dein Haupt will erblassen
im letzten Todesstoß,
alsdenn will ich dich fassen
in meinen Arm und Schoß.

8 Ich danke dir von Herzen,
o Jesu, liebster Freund,
für deine Todes Schmerzen,
da du's so gut gemeint.
Ach gib, daß ich mich halte
zu dir und deiner Treu',
und, wenn ich nun erkalte,
in dir mein Ende sei!

9 Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden,
so scheide nicht von mir:
wenn ich den Tod soll leiden
so tritt du denn herfür;
wenn mir am allerbängsten
wird um das Herze sein,
so reiß mich aus den Ängsten,
kraft deiner Angst und Pein!

10 Erscheine mir zum Schilde,
zum Trost in meinem Tod,
und laß mich sehn dein Bilde
in deiner Kreuzesnot!
Da will ich nach dir blicken,
da will ich glaubensvoll
dich fest an mein Herz drücken:
wer so stirbt, der stirbt wohl.

Source: Kleines Gesang- und Gebetbuch #18

Translator: Paul Gerhardt

Paul Gerhardt (b. Gräfenheinichen, Saxony, Germany, 1607; d. Lubben, Germany, 1676), famous author of Lutheran evangelical hymns, studied theology and hymnody at the University of Wittenberg and then was a tutor in Berlin, where he became friends with Johann Crüger. He served the Lutheran parish of Mittenwalde near Berlin (1651-1657) and the great St. Nicholas' Church in Berlin (1657-1666). Friederich William, the Calvinist elector, had issued an edict that forbade the various Protestant groups to fight each other. Although Gerhardt did not want strife between the churches, he refused to comply with the edict because he thought it opposed the Lutheran "Formula of Concord," which con­demned some Calvinist doctrines. Consequently, he was r… Go to person page >

Author (attributed to): St. 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 >

Text Information

First Line: O Haupt, voll Blut und Wunden
Latin Title: Salve caput cruentatum
Translator: Paul Gerhardt
Author (attributed to): St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Language: German
Notes: Polish translation: "O glowo, coś zraniona"; Czech translation: "Ó hlavo plna trýzne"; Swedish translation: "O huvud, blodigt, sa rat"; English translation: See "O sacred head now wounded" by James W. Alexander;
Copyright: Public Domain








O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden. P. Gerhardt. [Passiontide.] This is a beautiful but free tr. of the "Salve caput cruentatum," which is pt vii. of the Rhythmica Oratio, ascribed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Gerhardt's version appeared as No. 156 in the Frankfurt edition, 1656, of Crüger's Praxis, in 10 stanzas of 8 lines, entitled, "To the suffering Face of Jesus Christ." It is repeated in Wackernagel's edition of Gerhardt's Geistlische Lieder, No. 22; Bachmann's edition, No. 54 ; the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 109; and almost all recent German hymn-books. Lauxmann in Koch, viii., 47, thus characterises it:—

"Bernard's original is powerful and searching, but Gerhardt's hymn is still more powerful and more profound, as redrawn from the deeper spring of evangelical Lutheran, Scriptural, knowledge, and fervency of faith." Stanza x. Lauxmann would trace not only to Bernard but to stanza iii. of "Valet will ich dir geben " (see Herberger); and to Luther's words on the death of his daughter Magdalen " Who dies thus, dies well." He adds many instances of its use. Thus A. G. Spangenberg, when on the celebration of his jubilee he received many flattering testimonies, replied in humility with the words of stanza iv. In 1798, while C. F. Schwartz lay a-dying, his Malabar pupils gathered round him and sang in their own language the last verses of this hymn, he himself joining till his breath failed in death.

The beautiful melody (in Hymns Ancient & Modern, called Passion Chorale) first appeared in Hans Leo Hassler's Lustgarten, Nürnberg, 1601, set to a love song, beginning "Mein G'müth ist mir verwirret." In the Harmoniae Sacrae, Görlitz, 1613, it is set to "Herzlich thut mich verlangen,” and then in the Praxis, 1656, to Gerhardt's hymn. The original forms are in L. Erk's Choral Buch, 1863, Nos. 117, 118. It is used several times by J, S. Bach, in his Passion Music according to St. Matthew. The hymn is translated as:—
1. 0 Head so full of bruises. In full, by J. Gambold, in Some other Hymns and Poems, London, 1752, p. 12. Repeated in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, pt. i., No. 222; and pt. ii. pp. 389, 391. In the edition of 1789 it was greatly altered (1886, No. 88), and a new translation of stanza ix. substituted for Gambold's version; the Gambold translation of stanza ix., "When I shall gain permission," being given as a separate hymn (1886, No. 1247). Centos from the text of 1789 are found under the original first line in Walker's Cheltenham Psalms & Hymns, 1855; Reid's Praise Book, 1872, &c. Other forms are :—
(1) 0 Head, so pierced and wounded (stanza i. alt.) in Dr. Pagenstecher's Collection, 1864.
(2) 0 Christ! what consolation (stanza vi. alt.), in the American Baptist Hymn Book, 1871.
(3) I yield Thee thanks unfeigned (stanza viii.), in E. Bickersteth's Christian Psalmody, 1833, and others.
(4) I give thee thanks unfeigned (stanza viii. alt.), in Bishop Kyle's Collection, 1860.
2. 0 Sacred Head! now wounded. A very beautiful translation by Dr. J. W. Alexander. The translations of stanzas i., ii., iv., v., vii.-x. were first published in the Christian Lyre, N. York, 1830, No. 136. These were revised, and trs. of stanza iii., vi., added, by Dr. Alexander for Schaff’s Deutsche Kirchenfreund, 1849, p. 91. The full text is in Dr. Alexander's Breaking Crucible, N. Y., 1861, p. 7 ; in Schaff’s Christ in Song, 1869, p. 178; and the Cantate Domino, Boston, U. S., 1859. In his note Dr. Schaff says:—

"This classical hymn has shown an imperishable vitality in passing from the Latin into the German, and from the German into the English, and proclaiming in three tongues, and in the name of three Confessions— the Catholic, the Lutheran, and the Reformed—with equal effect, the dying love of our Saviour, and our boundless indebtedness to Him."

This version has passed into very many English and American hymnals, and in very varying centos. A comparison with the Christ in Song text will show how these centos are arranged. We can only note the following forms:—
(1) 0 sacred Head! now wounded (stanza i.), People's Hymnal, 1867; Hymnary, 1872; and in America in Hatfield's Church Hymn Book, 1872; Hymns & Songs of Praise, N. Y., 1874, &c.
(2) 0 Sacred Head! once wounded (i. alt.), Leeds Hymn Book, 1853; Baptist Psalms & Hymns, 1858; New Congregational Hymn Book, 1859.
(3) 0 Sacred Head, sore wounded (i. alt.), in the Stoke Hymn Book, 1878.
(4) 0 Sacred Head, so wounded (i. alt.), J. L. Porter's Collection, 1876.
(5) 0 blessed Christ, once wounded (i. alt.), Dr. Thomas's Augustine Hymn Book, 1866.
(6) 0 Lamb of God, once wounded (i. alt.), Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876.
(7) O Lamb of God, sore wounded (i. alt.), in the Ibrox Hymnal, 1871.
3. Ah! Head, so pierced and wounded. A good translation by R. Massie, omitting stanza vi., contributed as No. 92 to the 1857 edition of Mercer's Church Psalm & Hymn Book, and reprinted in his own Lyra Domestica, 1864, p. 114. Abridged in Mercer's Oxford edition, 1864, and in Kennedy, 1863. A cento beginning with stanza viii., 1. 5, "Oh! that Thy cross may ever," is in J. H. Wilson's Ser. of Praise, 1865.
4. Ah wounded Head, that bearest. By Miss Wink worth, omitting stanza vi., as No. 51 in her Chorale Book for England, 1863. Abridged in the Uppingham and Sherborne School Hymn Book, 1874, and the Free Church Hymn Book, 1882.
5. Oh! bleeding head, and wounded. In full, by J. Kelly, in his P. Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs, 1867, p. 59, repeated in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
Thou." By Miss Winkworth, 1855, p. 80. (2) "Thou pierced and wounded brow." By Miss Dunn, 1857, p. 39. (3) “O Head, blood-stained and wounded," in the Schaff-Gilman Library of Religious Poetry, edition 1883, p. 745, marked as translated by Samuel M. Jackson, 1873, 1880. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


O Haupt voll Blut, p. 835, i. The version by Dr. Alexander, "O Sacred Head! now wounded," appears, with alterations made by the compilers, in the S.P.C.K. Church Hymns, 1903, No. 141, as "O Sacred head! sore wounded, With grief and shame weighed down." The fourth stanza would give the spirit of the original better if it read thus:—

"Be near when I am dying;
Oh! show Thy Cross to me;
Thy death, my hope supplying,
From fear shall set me free."

[Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)



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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ST. THEODULPH (Teschner)

Now often named ST. THEODULPH because of its association with this text, the tune is also known, especially in organ literature, as VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN. It was composed by Melchior Teschner (b. Fraustadt [now Wschowa, Poland], Silesia, 1584; d. Oberpritschen, near Fraustadt, 1635) for "Valet wi…

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