O Darkest Woe

Tune: O Traurigkeit

A Mournful Graveside Song on the Sorrowful Burial of Our Savior Jesus Christ, to Be Sung on Good Friday.

  1. O darkest woe!
    Ye tears, forth flow!
    Has earth so sad a wonder?
    God the Father’s only Son
    Now is buried yonder!

  2. O sorrow dread!
    Our God is dead!
    But by His expiation
    Of our guilt upon the cross
    Gained for us salvation.

  3. O child of man!
    It was the ban
    Of death on thee that brought Him
    Down to suffer for thy sins,
    And such woe hath wrought Him.

  4. See, stained with blood,
    The Lamb of God,
    The Bridegroom, lies before thee,
    Pouring out His life that He
    May to life restore thee.

  5. O Ground of fait,
    Laid low in death,
    Sweet lips now silent sleeping!
    Surely all that live must mourn
    Here with bitter weeping.

  6. O Virgin-born,
    Thy death we mourn,
    Thou lovely Star of gladness!
    Who could see Thy reeking blood
    Without grief and sadness?

  7. Yea, blest is he
    Whose heart shall be
    Fixed here, who apprehendeth
    Why the Lord of Glory thus
    To the grave descendeth.

  8. O Jesus blest,
    My Help and Rest,
    With tears I now entreat Thee:
    Make me love Thee to the last,
    Till in heav’n I greet Thee!

O Traurigket! O Herzeleid!
St. 1, Friedrich von Spee, 1628
Sts. 2–8, Johann Rist, 1641
Tr. composite
Source: Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book, 1927, No. 215


German Text

Tune: O Traurigkeit

Klägliches Grab-Lied über die traurige Begräbnisse unsers Heilandes Jesu Christi, am stillen Freitag zu singen.

  1. O Traurigkeit!
    O Herzeleid!
    Ist das nicht zu beklagen?
    Gott des Vaters einigs Kind
    Wird ins Grab getragen.

  2. O große Not!
    Gott selbst liegt Tot,
    Am Kreuz ist er gestorben,
    Hat dadurch das Himmelreich
    Uns aus Lieb erworben.

  3. O Menschenkind,
    Nur deine Sünd’
    Hat dieses angerichtet,
    Da du durch die Missetat,
    Warest ganz vernichtet.

  4. Dein Bräutigam,
    Das Gotteslamm,
    Liegt hie mit Blut beschlossen,
    Welches es ganz mildiglich
    Hat für dich vergossen.

  5. O süßer Mund,
    O Glaubensgrund,
    Wie bist du doch zuschlagen!
    Alles was auf Erden lebt,
    Muß dich ja beklagen.

  6. O lieblichs Bild,
    Schön, zart und mild,
    Du Söhnlein der Jungfrauen!
    Niemand kann dein heißes Blut
    Sonder Reu anschauen.

  7. O selig ist
    Zu aller Frist
    Der dieses recht bedenket,
    Wie der Herr der Herrlichkeit
    Wird ins Grab versenket!

  8. O Jesu, du
    Mein Hilf und Ruh,
    Ich bitte dich mit Tränen:
    Hilf, daß ich mich bis ins Grab
    Nach dir möge sehnen.

St. 1, Friedrich von Spee, 1628
Sts. 2–8, Johann Rist, 1641
Source: Johann Rist, Himlische Lieder, Vol. 1, Lüneburg, 1643, No. 3


 

Literal Translation

  1. O sorrow!
    O suffering of heart!
    Is that not to be lamented?
    God the Father’s only Child
    Into the grave is borne.

  2. O great distress!
    God Himself lies dead,
    On the cross has He died,
    Hath thereby the Kingdom of Heaven
    For us out of love purchased.

  3. O child of man,
    Only thy sin
    Hath brought this about,
    Since thou through thy misdeed
    Were entirely brought to naught.

  4. Thy Bridegroom,
    The Lamb of God,
    Lies here with blood brought to an end,
    Which He entirely mildly
    Hath for thee poured out.

  5. O sweet Mouth,
    O faith’s Ground,
    How art Thou slammed shut!
    All that on the earth liveth
    Must indeed lament Thee.

  6. O lovely countenance,
    Fair, tender, and mild,
    Thou little Son of the Virgin!
    No one can Thy hot blood
    Gaze upon with anything but regret.

  7. O blessed is he
    At all times
    Who rightly considers this,
    How the Lord of Glory
    Is sunk into the grave!

  8. O Jesus, Thou
    My Help and Rest,
    I pray to Thee with tears:
    Help, that I until the grave
    After Thee may long.


 

In 1641, Johann Rist found a pre-existing Roman Catholic hymn, written in 1628, and was deeply impressed with the first stanza, but had objections to the remaining stanzas. He therefore resolved to add his own stanzas, fleshing out this hymn to its present eight-stanza form, which he published in his Himlische Lieder, Vol. 1, Lüneburg, 1641, p. 13. A scan of a subsequent 1643 printing is available here.

Further Reading