Three Hymns of the Passion
Part II: "O Sacred Head Surrounded" and "Stabat mater"
The hymn "O Sacred Head Surrounded" has a history dating back to the time of Saint Bernard.
The seventh section of his poem Salve mundi salutare, beginning Salve caput cruentatum, was used by Paulus Gerhardt as a basis for his O Haupt voll blut und wunden.
This first appeared in a book by Johann Cruger in 1656.
The translation of the German in common use today is by Henry Baker from Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1860.
The "pious" melody to which this hymn is universally sung was written by Hans Leo Hassler for the text Mein Gemuth ist mir verwirret as part of a secular collection published in Nurenburg in 1601.
It became associated with religious texts and was published thusly in 1613, and again, to the Gerhardt text, in 1656.
It was Bach's use of the tune in the Saint Matthew Passion, though, which contributed to its popularity as a chorale tune.
Jacopone da Todi (d.1306) is credited as the author of the Marian Passion hymn Stabat mater, although others (Pope Gregory the Great and Saint Bernard) have been suggested.
The hymn was incorporated in the Roman Breviary by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727, to be sung on the Feast of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It had been sung previously, particularly in the 13th century, by pilgrims as they traveled from town to town, and is considered one of the finest hymns of the Middle Ages.
There are numerous translations in present hymnals.
"At the Cross Her Station Keeping" appears in Edward Caswall's Lyra Catholica, 1849.
The popular melody sung today was found in the Mainz Gesangbuch, 1661.