The season of penance and prayer is upon us. Lent begins this Ash Wednesday, and to get you in the mood, I’ve chosen one of the most sublime of Lenten hymns, My Song is Love Unknown written by Samuel Crossman in 1664, the tune attributed to John Ireland (b. 13 August 1879 – d. 12 June 1962) . It is said that Ireland composed the melody to Crossman’s words one day over lunch at a fellow composer’s suggestion. Be sure to read the profoundly moving and beautiful lyrics (posted below) on this one.
Masterfully sung by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge:
My Song is Love Unknown:
My song is love unknown,
My Saviors love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then Crucify! is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.
They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.