Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted," by Thomas Kelly

Here in Holy Week, the busyness of my ministerial duties hasn't given me much time for poetry. So, in lieu of one of my own poems, I offer something better: a tremendous hymn of reflection on the Crucifixion, unfortunately not often sung anymore (at least not in my experience in American evangelicalism). It was penned in 1804 by the Irish clergyman Thomas Kelly (1769-1855). A sung version by Fernando Ortega can be heard here. May its words lead you deeper into awe at the mystery of our salvation.

 Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, 
See him dying on the tree!
This is Christ, by man rejected; 
Here, my soul, your Savior see.
He’s the long expected prophet, 
David’s son, yet David’s Lord.
Proofs I see sufficient of it: 
He’s the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, all who hear him groaning, 
Was there ever grief like this?
Friends through fear his cause disowning, 
Foes insulting his distress;
Many hands were raised to wound him, 
None would intervene to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced him 
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

You who think of sin but lightly 
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, 
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed; 
See who bears the awful load;
It’s the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, 
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation; 
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ, the rock of our salvation, 
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, 
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded 
Who on him their hope have built.

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