Jesus, the very thought of thee (hymn)

Certain famous hymns have traditionally been attributed to Bernard, however there is no real evidence to directly link them to him. The most famous, "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" and "Jesu, the Very Thought of Thee," however, do certainly express Bernardine spirituality, and if Bernard did not write them, they at least spring from his influence and tradition. The originals, of course, were in Latin.


JESU! The very thought of thee

With sweetness fills my breast

But sweeter far thy face to see,

And in thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,

Nor can the memory find

A sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,

O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,

O joy of all the meek,

To those who fall, how kind Thou art!

How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this

Nor tongue nor pen can show;

The love of Jesus, what it is,

None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,

As Thou our prize will be;

Jesus be Thou our glory now,

And through eternity.

O Jesus, King most wonderful

Thou Conqueror renowned,

Thou sweetness most ineffable

In Whom all joys are found!

When once Thou visitest the heart,

Then truth begins to shine,

Then earthly vanities depart,

Then kindles love divine.

O Jesus, light of all below,

Thou fount of living fire!

Surpassing all the joys we know,

And all we can desire.

May every heart confess Thy Name,

And ever thee adore,

And, seeking Thee, itself inflame

To seek Thee more and more.

Thee may our tongues forever bless,

Thee may we love alone,

And ever in our lives express

The image of Thine own.

O Jesus, Thou the beauty art

Of angel worlds above;

Thy Name is music to the heart,

Inflaming it with love.

By Bernard of Clairvaux

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #24 in 1989]

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