“Herzlich tut mich verlangen”

Op. 122, no. 10
by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Performed by Dr. Lara West

“Herzlich tut mich verlangen,” Op. 122, no. 10, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) has several layers of relevance this week. Brahms wrote his Op. 122, his last-known compositions, shortly after the death of his dear friend Clara Schumann. All eleven are chorale preludes for organ; numbers 9 and 10 are both based on “Herzlich tut mich verlangen.” A prayer for a blessed death, this German hymn was written by Christoph Knoll in 1611 during a plague. Although that text is not in our modern hymnal, we now sing the same tune with Paul Gerhardt’s text, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” especially appropriate for Good Friday. Amid all of these associations with death, Gerhardt reminds us to focus on Jesus: “O sacred Head, now wounded … I joy to call Thee mine.”

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded | LSB 449, stanza 3

3. What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever!
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never,
Outlive my love for Thee.

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