It would be hard to imagine another tune that complements the lyrics of this timeless hymn. The Latin poem is attributed to Bernard Clairvaux born in 1091. The irony is that the bittersweet tune, now known as the Passion Chorale, was first paired with words from a secular love song in the 1600s!
“O Sacred Head Now Wounded” is often sung during Lenten season and is suitable for communion. This arrangement includes three variations of the tune that not do not change key and are linked with small interludes. These features make it easy for you to shorten or lengthen a performance according to your needs. The left hand enjoys the melody in the first verse. The second verse takes on a slightly Latin feel and the third includes more colorful, jazzy chords.
Prolific and award-winning author James Schaap gave me permission to use his photo for the cover art. He’s a retired professor of English at Dordt College where I received my undergraduate degree. I was not lucky enough to have him as a prof but, my husband was.
Along with writing, Schaap also excels in photography. He captures the stunning landscape of Northwest Iowa—my home before Colorado—with an eye for spotting the magnificent in the Midwest prairie. Growing up in Northwest Iowa, it was not easy for me to find beauty in snow, ice, wind, frigid temperatures, humidity and corn fields. Schaap has the ability to find it and share it in his photography and in his writing.
In addition, check out the vast collection of his books on Amazon here. https://www.amazon.com/James-Calvin-Schaap/e/B000APBKM2
This hymn has always been one of my favorites. It’s my hope that you find my meditative arrangement and James Schaap’s cover art inspiring as you contemplate the season of Lenten and look forward to the celebration of Easter.
Watch the video below to hear my interpretation.
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-Leila J Viss