On "Bethlehem Down"

The first thing one must deal with, I think, at least for the non-Anglophile reader/hearer of this hymn, is the title. It’s simple, really—Wikipedia has it that the Celtic word for hill resembles our contemporary word down. So the term “Bethlehem Down” would mean the hillsides of Bethlehem, or, more generally, the countryside […]

Hymns of the Cross: Look, Ye Saints!

Thomas Kelly has written 790 hymns, most of which are rarely sung (a notable exception being “Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him”). Some of his texts, though, are overlooked gems, including one of his several hymns of the cross, “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” and what seems to be a Resurrection hymn, “Look, Ye, […]

Hymns of the Cross: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

It is a minor shame that, despite having spent the prior 18 years of my life regularly attending a Baptist Church, it wasn’t until I went to college that I encountered the great hymn of the faith, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” Again, thank you Dr. Ledgerwood.

I some time ago, I started this series […]

Hymns of the Cross: When I Survey

Isaac Watts is the author of two of the most widely known hymns of the cross. Since my favorite, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed,” was the subject of a very good article by Ryan Martin at Religious Affections, I will be content to encourage you to read that there.

The other, “When I Survey […]

Hymns of the Cross: My God, I Love Thee

I think the Catholic notions of perfect and imperfect contrition can be very helpful to us Protestants, even though we would reject such aspects of those notions as touch on the nature of grace and justification, etc. But the basic definitions do clarify for us the nature of true repentance.

Imperfect contrition is a sense […]

Hymns of the Cross: A Christmas Hymn?

Richard Wilbur, who turned 90 this year, has published 11 collections of poetry, 10 plays (translating three more from other languages) as well as various prose and critical pieces. Among his various recognitions are two Pulitzers, and two appointments to the post of Poet Laureate of the United States.  He is, perhaps, our […]