Sunday, March 22, 2009

Temptation Sharp You Knew

This hymn actually encompasses the whole of Christ's life on earth, but I have always thought that the Lenten verses (2-4) were the most memorable.

O love, how deep, how broad, how high,
How passing thought and ecstasy,
That God should love us so, to take
Our mortal form for mortals’ sake!

For us baptized, for us you bore
Your holy fast and hungered sore,
For us temptation sharp you knew;
For us the tempter overthrew.

For us you prayed; for us you taught;
For us your daily works you wrought;
By words and signs and actions thus
Still seeking not yourself, but us.

For us to wicked hands betrayed,
Scourged, mocked, in purple robe arrayed,
You bore the shameful cross and death,
For us gave up your dying breath.

For us you rose from death again;
For us you went on high to reign;
For us you sent the Spirit here,
To guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

All glory to our Savior God
For love so deep, so high, so broad,
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.

Latin, 15th c.; tr. Benjamin Webb, 1854
Grenoble Antiphoner, 1753;
adapt. Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906, and others

This anonymous text is part of a longer poem of 23 verses, Apparuit benignitas. Translator Benjamin Webb was a close friend of John Mason Neale, and translated several verses for Neale's Hymnal Noted (1854).

The tune comes from a French church melody, first adapted as a modern hymn tune by Ralph Vaughan Williams for his English Hymnal (1906).


Dorothy said...

It does encompass all of Christ's life! I've never seen this one before, C.W.S., but I really like it; especially the repetition of the phrase "for us."

AuntE said...

We use the tune PUER NOBIS NASCITUR for these words. It gives a thoughtful tone to the hymn, much like the tune you have referenced, CWS. However, the tune I like the best is the AGINCOURT HYMN which gives an almost triumphant tone to the words.

C.W.S. said...

Don't think I have ever come across this text to PUER NOBIS.

In selecting tunes, I usually try to think about where the hymn falls in the calendar and what other hymns are being sung in that season. This one is likely to be sung in either Epiphany or Lent, and right in the middle of this period (last Sunday in Epiphany) we get the readings for the Transfiguration. The great Transfig. hymn O wondrous type! O vision fair! (see 8/6/08 blog entry) is sung (in my mind) to DEO GRATIAS (the Agincourt Hymn), so I wouldn't use it for this one.