Hail, Spear And Nails! Erewhile Despis’d

This hymn is a hymn for Matins on the Friday after the First Sunday in Lent, dedicated to the Spear and Nails of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The text comes from the Office of the Instruments of the Passion, or the Passion Offices, and was translated by Fr. Caswall for the Lyra Catholica in 1849. 

Hail, Spear and Nails! erewhile despis’d,
As things of little worth;
Now crimson with the blood of Christ,
And fam’d through Heav’n and earth.

Chosen by Jewish perfidy*
As instruments of sin,
God turned you into ministers
Of love and grace divine:

For from each several wound ye made
In that immortal frame,
As from a fount, celestial gifts
And life eternal came.

Thee, Jesu, pierc’d with Nails and Spear,
Let every knee adore;
With Thee, O Father, and with Thee,
O spirit evermore.

*This is a direct translation of the Latin text. It should not be read in a sense which would accuse Jews of deicide or promote antisemitism. Possible substitutions for “Jewish perfidy” could include “cruel Man’s” or “cruel men’s”; or, to emphasize how our own personal sins bear the responsibility for Christ’s crucifixion, one may substitute “my own” or “our own.”

Words: Passion Offices; tr. Fr. Edward Caswall, 1849.

The original Latin text is as follows:

Salvete Clavi, et Lancea
Squalore nuper obsita,
Quae mersa Christi corpori
Almo rubetis sanguine.

Vos ad scelus Iudaica
Elegerat perfidia:
Sed in ministra gratiae
Vos vertit e caelo Deus.

Nam quot sacratis artubus
Sculpsistis olim vulnera
Et tot reclusis fontibus
Dona effluunt caelestia.

Clavis forato, et Lancea,
Iesu tibi sit gloria,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu
Nunc, et per omne saeculum. Amen.


About Noah

musings of a young Catholic aspiring to be faithful to his Lord and God Jesus Christ through His Holy Catholic Church
This entry was posted in Edward Caswall, Hymns By The Greats, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Lent, Matins/Office of Readings, Passion Offices/Office of the Instruments of the Passion, The Church Year, The Liturgy of Hours/Breviary, The Passion, The Spear and Nails. Bookmark the permalink.

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