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The first time I sang this hymn was in a play called “The Living Last Supper.” We, Jesus’ followers, were sitting about the stage, sorrowful after the death of Jesus, reflecting on what we had just experienced. And we sang these words: “‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.“
It’s stuck with me ever since. Few hymns strike so near the depth of our guilt. Few really voice the fact that we are the reason he died. Few make it so personal.
But it needs to be personal. Only when we recognize our need for a savior can we be saved! Voicing the truths in this hymn, as a confession, open the door to grace and healing, forgiveness, and restored relationship. God gave everything to ransom us, though we have done nothing to deserve it. Isn’t that amazing!
Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted!
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.
Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.
Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
not my deserving.
Based on an 11th century Latin meditation, using Isaiah 53
Text: Johann Heermann (1630), translated by Robert Bridges (1897)
Music: HERZLIEBSTER JESU, Johann Crüger (1640)
Copyright: Public Domain
This hymn is featured in our 2022 Lent Worship Guide:
Fernando Ortega Video
This is a beautifully retuned version of Ah, Holy Jesus, with pieces of artwork depicting Jesus’ journey as the background.