A Hymn for Palm Sunday

April 9, 2006 | 13 comments
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My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s 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 sweet his praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King;
Then ‘Crucify!’
Is all their breath
And for his death
They thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
Themselves displease,
And ‘gainst him rise.

They rise, and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of Life they slay.
Yet cheerful he
To suffering goes,
That he his foes
From thence might free.

In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have:
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heaven was his home;
But mine the tomb
Wherein he lay.

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.

(Samuel Crossman, 1624-1684)

13 Responses to A Hymn for Palm Sunday

  1. Ben H on April 9, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful hymn Kristine! I’m going to go look for some palms . . .

  2. Kevin Barney on April 9, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    Does this hymn have an extant musical setting that you know of, Kristine? It’s very pretty.

    I did a “current events” day with my youth SS class. One of the things we covered was to make sure they at least knew what the liturgical calendar is and what many other Christians would be doing in their services on this Palm Sunday.

  3. Bill on April 9, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    It’s usually sung to a very beautiful setting by John Ireland (1879-1962).

  4. Kimball Hunt on April 9, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Salutations to those marking Christ’s passion, Israel’s redemption ( . . . as well as this evening the nativity of God’s Messenger, may peace be upon him: Muhammad).

  5. D. Fletcher on April 9, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    I played an interesting musical service tonight, in Short Hills, New Jersey. It was ostensibly a Palm Sunday Musical Fireside, with plenty of music, videotaped testimonies (including Bruce R. McConkie’s last GC speech), organized so that members could invite their non-member friends.

    The music overall, was good. The final solo was “Weepin’ Mary,” which I composed from a Sacred Harp text. What is it about this song? I remember composing it, but its impact far surpasses what I brought to it (very simple harmony and a melancholy melody). Sung here by Sarah Asplund, whose serious talent for soulfulness is matchless.

    I’ve heard of another performance of this song this past week, at Ralph Laycock’s funeral, sung by his daughter, Kathryn Laycock Little (the original performer of the song — I composed it for her). Ralph was the symphony conductor at BYU, and he was always so kind and complimentary to me — I loved him, and I loved her, and I’m happy to know that I’ve contributed something to their lives (and afterlives, maybe).

    But what is it about “Weepin’ Mary”? It isn’t something that I would sell, if I could bottle it.

    It might just be, the Holy Ghost lives there, right in the song.

  6. Kristine Haglund Harris on April 9, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    I meant to say the hymn can be sung to Rhosymedre, which we have in our hymnal as #296–you have to repeat the last line.

    D.–one of the things that I think makes “Weepin’ Mary” so sweet is the repetition of “my Jesus” in the line “call to my Jesus, and he’ll draw nigh.” Mormons don’t often assume such familiarity with Jesus–we usually call Him “Jesus Christ,” “the Savior,” “the Lord”–and so it’s powerful to invoke the intimacy required by the personal possessive pronoun. It’s that sense of closeness and comfort that makes it impossible for me to ever sing “This is my Friend…” without tears.

  7. D. Fletcher on April 9, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    Yes, that personal level of comfort is unusual for Mormons. And yet, one of the reasons I react to a lot of the Mormon pop music with dismay is precisely because of this very intimate language referring to the Savior. “His Hands,” makes me shudder at its absolute dearth of true spiritual imagery in its rhetoric. Yet I would be the last person to advocate a return to “kyrie eleison,” eloquent as it sounds here.

    But the archaic grammar of “Weepin’ Mary” coupled with its simultaneous tone of joy and melancholy, somehow manages to convey great divinity and familiarity. It is all of these contrasting emotions, and simultaneously a probing question and perfect answer.

  8. ukann on April 10, 2006 at 4:32 am

    Thank you Kristine for that beautiful reminder. Took me right back to my childhood where we used to sing it in school here in England. I’m not musical enough to know the name of the tune – but the tune I know is beautiful, soaring and inspirational (not at all like my voice, but there you go). I’m getting nostalgic and longing again for Hymns Ancient and Modern. Ann.

  9. john f. on April 10, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    Very nice. We need to be more aware of the devotional material out there for this time of the year.

  10. Nate Oman on April 10, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Kristine: I think that the power of intimate language exists precisely because we normally use more formal titles.

  11. Jonathan Green on April 10, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Apart from Christmas and Easter, Palm Sunday is probably the only day in the traditional liturgical calendar for which we already have a hymn in the hymnbook, and a pretty good one at that: “All Glory, Laud and Honor.”

  12. Kristine Haglund Harris on April 11, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Nate, I agree.

    Jonathan–it’s better than pretty good!! And we also have one for All Saints’ Day.

  13. WillF on April 16, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    D. Fletcher:

    Thank you for your kind words for Ralph Laycock and Kathryn Little (they are family to me). I was at his funeral and heard Kathryn’s performance of Weepin’ Mary. Hearing it brought feelings of hope and relief. Thank you.

    For those who would like to know a little more about him, there is a nice article in BYU’s online paper: http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/59288