Great Lenten Hymns: O Sacred Head Surrounded

By Rhen

“O Sacred Head Surrounded” is a classic Lenten hymn. It is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who was born in the year 1090, but since it was written so long ago there are few details about the story behind its writing. It is a hymn that is used very commonly during Holy Week.

Lyrics for “O Sacred Head Surrounded”

1 O sacred head surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn;
O royal head so wounded,
reviled, and put to scorn:
death’s shadows rise before you,
the glow of life decays,
yet angel hosts adore you
and tremble as they gaze!

2 Your youthfulness and vigour
are spent, your strength is gone,
and in your tortured figure
I see death drawing on:
what agony of dying,
what love, to sinners free!
My Lord, all grace supplying,
O turn your face on me!

3 Your sinless soul’s oppression
was all for sinners’ gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but yours the deadly pain:
I bow my head, my Saviour,
for I deserve your place;
O grant to me your favour,
and heal me by your grace.

4 What language shall I borrow
to thank you, dearest Friend,
for this your dying sorrow,
your mercy without end?
Lord, make me yours for ever:
your servant let me be;
and may I never, never
betray your love for me.

Category: Everyday Catholicism