The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Jesus, How Sweet Thy Memory Is!

For Epiphany

Words: "Jesu dulcis memoria," with notes
Attributed to S. Bernard (1091-1157)

Translation by Rev. James Waddell Alexander, D.d., Presbyterian (1804-1859)

Music: Not Stated

Source: Philip Schaff, ed., Literature and Poetry: Studies on the English Language; the Poetry of the Bible; the Dies Iræ; the Stabat Mater; the Hymns of St. Bernard; the University, Ancient and Modern; Dante Alighieri; the Divina Commedia (C. Scribner's sons, 1890), "St. Bernard As Hymnist," pp. 232-255.

1. Jesus, how sweet Thy memory is!
Thinking of Thee is truest bliss;
Beyond all honeyed sweets below
Thy presence is it here to know.

2. Tongue cannot speak a lovelier word,
Nought more melodious can be heard,
Nought sweeter can be thought upon,
Than Jesus Christ, God's only Son.

3. Jesus, Thou hope of those who turn,
Gentle to those who pray and mourn,
Ever to those who seek Thee, kind,—
What must Thou be to those who find!

4. Jesus, Thou dost true pleasures bring,
Light of the heart, and living spring;
Higher than highest pleasures roll,
Or warmest wishes of the soul.

5. Lord, in our bosoms ever dwell,
And of our souls the night dispel;
Pour on our inmost mind the ray,
And fill our earth with blissful day.

6. If Thou dost enter to the heart,
Then shines the truth in every part;
All worldly vanities grow vile,
And charity burns bright the while.

7. This love of Jesus is most sweet,
This laud of Jesus is most meet;
Thousand and thousand times more dear
Than tongue of man can utter here.

8. Praise Jesus, all with one accord,
Crave Jesus, all, your love and Lord,
Seek Jesus, warmly, all below,
And seeking into rapture glow!

9. Thou art of heavenly grace the fount,
Thou art the true Sun of God's mount;
Scatter the saddening cloud of night,
And pour upon us glorious light !

Editor's Notes:

According to the editor of the source, Philip Schaff, this translation was first published in the "Mercersburg Review" for April, 1859, p. 304, with the Latin text and an introductory note by Philip Schaff. Concerning this hymn, Schaff wrote:

This may well be called the sweetest and most evangelical hymn of the Middle Ages; as the Dies Irae is the grandest, and the Stabat Mater the tenderest. It breathes the deepest love to Christ, as the fountain of all peace and comfort, and the sum of all that is pure and lovely. It is eminently characteristic of the glowing piety and "subjective loveliness" of St. Bernard. It has inspired a number of the best Jesus hymns in other languages.

The poem has no less than 48 quatrains or 192 lines in the Benedictine edition of Bernard's Works. Fabricius and Wackernagel give from other MSS. even 50 quatrains or 200 lines.

It can also be found on pp. 321-322 of Philiip Schaff, ed., Christ In Song (1870) in 9 verses.

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