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Mit Freuden Zart

Audio: (intro) - hymnal verse (adapt. RVW) - descant verse. Free score.

1 hymnal
Lord Christ, when first thou cam’st to earth,
upon a cross they bound thee,
and mocked thy saving kingship then
by thorns with which they crowned thee:
and still our wrongs may weave thee now
new thorns to pierce that steady brow,
and robe of sorrow round thee.

2. descant
O wounded hands of Jesus, build
in us thy new creation;
our pride is dust, our vaunt is stilled,
we wait thy revelation:
O love that triumphs over loss,
we bring our hearts before thy cross,
to finish thy salvation.

The tune MIT FREUDEN ZART (With tender joy) appeared in the 1566 Kirchengesänge of the Bohemian Brethren, a precursor of the Protestant Reformation originally referred to as Unitas Fratrum, today part of the Moravian church. The opening phrases – the AA of this AABC setting – were clearly derived from well known earlier sources: a popular early 16th C French Christmas chanson, Une pastourelle gentille, set to a 1529 tune by Claudin de Sermisy (image), and GENEVAN 138 which appeared that same year in the Genevan Psalter. 

The English hymn most commonly sung to this tune is Sing praise to God who reigns above, translated by Cecil Frances Alexander from Johann Jakob Schütz's 1675 Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut. There is also a particularly powerful text by the 20th C. Episcopal priest and teacher Walter Russell Bowie (1882-1969), Lord Christ when first thou cam'st to earth, which is revered in the precincts of the Anglican church, as well as in some Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.

Includes Sing praise to God and Lord Christ when first thou came. In D; also available in C.

Descant verse
(Lord Christ when first thou came):

O wounded hands of Jesus build in us thy new creation;

Our pride is dust, our vaunt is stilled, we wait thy revelation.

O love that triumphs over loss, we bring our hearts before thy cross

To finish thy salvation.

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