Originally written by Hans Leo Hassler around 1600 for a secular love song, “Mein G’müt ist mir verwirret”, this chorale is often associated with the text “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” a text based on a medieval Latin poem often attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), but now attributed to the Medieval poet Arnulf of Louvain (died 1250). Paul Gerhardt wrote a German version “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.” The tune was appropriated and rhythmically simplified for Gerhardt’s German hymn in 1656 by Johann Crüger. Johann Sebastian Bach arranged the melody and used five stanzas of the hymn in his St Matthew Passion. Bach also used the melody with different words in his Christmas Oratorio. The hymn was first translated into English in 1752 by John Gambold. The most widely used English translations were made by the American Presbyterian minister, James Waddel Alexander in 1830 and the English poet Robert Bridges in 1899.
See a list of other popular hymn and chorale themes here.
William James Ross – Free Fantasy on Herzlich tut mich verlangen – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, San Antonio, Texas
Paul Kayser – Passacaglia on “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” – Dudelange, Luxembourg
Wilco Buitendijk – Improvisatie over ‘O haupt voll blut und wunden’ – Rodenrijs