Sunday, August 01, 2021

Thou Man of griefs

Charles Wesley wrote the hymn transcribed below. It appeared in 1762 in Short Hymns on Select Passages of the Holy Scriptures (Bristol: E. Farley, 1762, p. 352).[i] It is hymn 686, based on Hebrews 5:7-8. The meter is LMD (Long Meter Doubled). This text is popular in The Sacred Harp with the tune Kedron (Thou Man of Grief), by Amos Pilsbury.
686. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience, by the things which he suffered.—v. 7, 8.
1. Thou Man of griefs, remember me,
Who never canst thyself forget,
Thy last mysterious agony,
Thy fainting pangs, and bloody sweat,
When wrestling in the strength of prayer
Thy spirit sunk beneath its load,
Thy feeble flesh abhorred to bear
The wrath of an Almighty God.
2. A taste of thy tormenting fears
If now thou dost to me impart,
Give the full virtue of thy tears,
The cries which pierced thy Father’s heart;
Unite my sorrows to thine own,
And let me to my God complain,
Who melted by thy Spirit’s groan,
Can save me from that endless pain.
3. Father, if I may call thee so,
Regard my fearful heart’s desire,
Remove this load of guilty woe,
Nor let me in my sins expire:
I tremble, lest the wrath divine
Which bruises now my wretched soul,
Should bruise this wretched soul of mine,
Long as eternal ages roll.
4. To thee my last distress I bring:
The heightened fear of death I find;
The tyrant brandishing his sting
Appears, and hell is close behind!
I deprecate that death alone,
That endless banishment from thee:
O save, and give me to thy Son,
Who trembled, wept, and bled for me.
5. In Jesu’s name and Spirit I
As dying call, My God, my God,
Attend our strong united cry,
And see me roll’d in Jesu’s blood!
I arm me with his mortal pain,
Behind his wounds my soul I hide;
If thou canst slay thy Son again,
Transfix me now—through Jesu’s side!
“Thou Man of griefs” is one of several hymn texts that mentions “bloody sweat” (cf. Luke 22:43-44) in a manner that appears to take the expression literally. The words are found in the third stanza of Isaac Watts’s hymn beginning “According to thy gracious word.”
Gethsemane can I forget?
Or there thy conflict see,
Thine agony and bloody sweat,
And not remember thee?
Notably, Charles Wesley’s wife Sarah (Gwynne) Wesley used the expression in her hymn “A Hymn, for a Woman drawing near the Time of her Travail” (Hymns for the Use of Families, Bristol: William Pine, 1767).
By thy Fainting in the Garden,
By thy Bloody Sweat I pray,
Write upon my Heart the Pardon,
Take my Sins and Fears away.
Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Other hymns:
Trembling beneath our curse and woe,
With groans in most excessive pain,
Thy bloody sweat, like rivers flow,
Collected from descending rain.
James Relly (1722-1778)
My Jesus, I would ne’er forget,
That hour I spent with Thee;
When there I saw Thy bloody sweat
In dark Gethsemane.
Edward Payson Hammond (1831-1910)
When I by faith the bloody sweat
Of my dear Saviour see;
And can behold the suffering state
Of him, who died for me.
“Christ’s Sufferings,” in Hymns, Selected and Original; for the Use of the Citizens of Zion, Thomas Reed, editor, 1848
Dear Shepherd! see Thy flock here met,
Before Thy sacred feet to bow;
To hymn thy wounds, and bloody sweat,
Thro’ which eternal love did flow.
“Meeting in Jesus’ Name,” in Hymns, Selected and Original; for the Use of the Citizens of Zion, Thomas Reed, editor, 1848
His body bore anguish and pain,
His spirit most sunk with the load,
A short time before He was slain,
His sweat was as great drops of blood.
The Lovely Story, The Sacred Harp, 1844
Considering these are poetic works, some might question whether these expressions are intended to be taken literally (i.e., the sweat being literal blood).

[i] It is likely that folks in 1762 had a bit different view than we moderns of what constituted a “short hymn.”

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