Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, July 10, 2022


          "Ah, Holy Jesus" meditates on the events leading to the crucifixion and asks who is personally responsible for the death of the Savior.
          The text was written in 1630 by Johann Heermann (1585–1647), a 17th century Lutheran pastor and poet, as a translation and paraphrase of a medieval Latin devotion. Born in Silesia (now Poland), Heermann was the only surviving child of five. His mother vowed that he would be trained for the ministry if God spared his life. Despite personal health problems with his sight, a throat condition that hindered his preaching, and victimized by the Thirty Years' War, he became both a pastor and a scholar. His poetic skills were of such a level that he was named poet laureate in the Holy Roman Empire in 1608
          Robert Bridges (1844–1930), poet laureate of England, whose declining health caused him to give up his medical career and, as a result, focus on literature and hymnody, translated Heerman's hymn to English. Rather than attempting a complete translation of the lengthy hymn, Bridges chose in 1897 to paraphrase a part of it in five stanzas.
          The first verse  begins with the rhetorical question, "how hast thou offended?"  The obvious answer is that Christ did not deserve ridicule and rejection. The remaining stanzas focus on the guilty party. 
           The second verse asks, "Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?" This time, the response is not rhetorical; it is declarative: "'Twas I, Lord Jesus, …  I it was denied thee … I crucified thee."  
If the first two verses seem dark and gloomy, hope begins to glimmer in the third verse.  This verse invokes the image of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–21), who gives his life for the sheep. "The slave hath sinned … and the Son hath suffered."  
Building on the general hope of verse three, verse four makes personal claim to the atonement. This verse shares the purpose of the incarnation, which is ultimately "for [our] salvation."  The tone of the final stanzas moves from the harsh reality of acknowledging our complicity in Christ's suffering to adoration and gratitude for "thy pity and thy love unswerving ...  not my deserving."
          The final verse reflects on how we can respond to this amazing gift. His love inspires us to love and adoration. We cannot pay Jesus back, but we can adore him and commune forever with him.
As the hymn, "Ah, Holy Jesus" so poignantly points out, our sin was to blame for causing Jesus death. In a heartfelt confession to Jesus, the hymn writer admits, "Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee."  Innocent and godly in every way, Jesus didn't deserve the brutal torture of crucifixion. Yet he suffered that horrible death anyway, because there was no other way to save us from our sin. Standing before the cross, we have no one else to blame: It was our sin that nailed the spikes into his hands. 
          This old hymn continues to challenge Christians today, pushing us to realize it was our personal sins that put Jesus on the cross. And beyond that, Heerman's hymn points us to a proper response, beautifully reminding us that Jesus' death for our salvation calls for us to adore and worship him.

1   Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended, 
that we to judge thee have in hate pretended? 
By foes derided, by thine own rejected, 
O most afflicted! 

2    Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? 
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee! 
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; 
I crucified thee. 

3    Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered; 
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered. 
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded, 
God interceded. 

4    For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, 
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation; 
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, 
for my salvation. 

5    Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, 
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee, 
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, 
not my deserving.

.          Listen to this hymn here.   HOLY JESUS

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