088a.OSacredHead

Please turn to number 88 (First Tune) and join with the clarinets in “O Sacred Head”. It is also permissible to sing Paul Simon’s “American Tune”.

Number: 88 (First Tune)
First Line: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
Name: PASSION CHORALE.
Meter: 7 6, 7 6. D.
Tempo: With devotion
Music: Hans Leo Hassler, 1564-1612
Text: Ascribed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091-1153
Paul Gerhardt, 1607-76
Tr. James Waddel Alexander, 1804-59 a.

Clarinet Arrangement: 088a.OSacredHead

I was practicing this and my wife said, “Are you learning Paul Simon’s ‘American Tune’ as a Valentine’s Day Surprise?”

I said, “Funny you mention that. I was just reading how Paul Simon used ‘O Sacred Head’s’ tune for his song, ‘American Tune’!”

This hymn is well enough known that it has its very own entry in wikipedia: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Original Latin

Further information: Membra Jesu Nostri

The hymn is based on a long medieval Latin poem, Salve mundi salutare,[1] with stanzas addressing the various parts of Christ‘s body hanging on the Cross. The last part of the poem, from which the hymn is taken, is addressed to Christ’s head, and begins “Salve caput cruentatum.” The poem is often attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), but is now attributed to the Medieval poet Arnulf of Leuven (died 1250). The seven cantos were used for the text of Dieterich Buxtehude‘s Membra Jesu Nostri addressing the various members of the crucified body.

German translation

The poem was translated into German by the Lutheran hymnist Paul Gerhardt (1607–1676). He reworked the Latin version to suggest a more personal contemplation of the events of Christ’s death on the cross.[2] It first appeared in Johann Crüger‘s hymnal Praxis pietatis melica in 1656. Although Gerhardt translated the whole poem, it is the closing section which has become best known, and is sung as a hymn in its own right. The German hymn begins with “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden”.

English translation

The hymn was first translated into English in 1752 by John Gambold (1711–1771), an Anglican vicar in Oxfordshire. His translation begins, “O Head so full of bruises.” In 1830 a new translation of the hymn was made by an American Presbyterian minister, James Waddel Alexander (1804-1859). Alexander’s translation, beginning “O sacred head, now wounded,” became one of the most widely used in 19th and 20th century hymnals.

The music for the German and English versions of the hymn is by Hans Leo Hassler, written around 1600 for a secular love song, “Mein G’müt ist mir verwirret“, which first appeared in print in the 1601 Lustgarten Neuer Teutscher Gesäng. The tune was appropriated and rhythmically simplified for Gerhardt’s German hymn in 1656 by Johann Crüger. Johann Sebastian Bach arranged the melody and used five stanzas of the hymn in the St Matthew Passion. He also used the hymn’s text and melody in the second movement of the cantataSehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem, BWV 159.[4] Bach used the melody on different words in his Christmas Oratorio, in the first part (no. 5). Franz Liszt included an arrangement of this hymn in the sixth station, Saint Veronica, of his Via Crucis (the Way of the Cross), S. 504a. The Danish composer Rued Langgaard composed a set of variations for string quartet on this tune. It is also employed in the final chorus of “Sinfonia Sacra”, the 9th symphony of the English composer Edmund Rubbra.

The melody of “American Tune” by Paul Simon is based on the hymn.

Peter, Paul & Mary and the Dave Brubeck Trio performed “Because all men are brothers” on their album “Summit Sessions”.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

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