Text: Latin hymn, 12th century
Music: Sarum plainsong
Tune name: CHRISTE REDEMPTOR
The 5 stanzas in this hymn are taken from a 12th-century hymn, “Jubilus rithmicus de amore Jesu,” which is often attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Another hymn, “Jesus, the very thought of thee” (#462) also contains portions from this medieval text.
The Hymnal 1940 Companion notes:
Whatever its source, it remains one of the most moving expressions of medieval piety. Its basic theme is the love of the soul for God, beginning with an introduction which defines a sense of the mystic presence of God as the supreme joy of mankind. The original form has 42 stanzas; nine others were appended during the 15th century when it first came into general use as a rosary.
The selection of the 5 stanzas for use in this hymn and the translation are the work of Ray Palmer (1808-1887), a Congregational minister from Rhode Island, and the author of the hymn “My faith looks up to thee” (#449).
1. Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts,
thou Fount of life, thou Light of men,
from the best bliss that earth imparts,
we turn unfilled to thee again.
2. Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
thou savest those that on thee call;
to them that seek thee, thou art good,
to them that find thee, all in all.
3. We taste thee, O thou living Bread,
and long to feast upon thee still;
we drink of thee, the Fountain-head,
and thirst our souls from thee to fill.
4. Our restless spirits yearn for thee
where’er our changeful lot is cast;
glad, when thy gracious smile we see,
blest, when our faith can hold thee fast.
5. O Jesus, ever with us stay;
make all our moments calm and bright!
chase the dark night of sin away,
shed o’er the world thy holy light.
This hymn is sung to many different tunes in addition to the two that are in our Hymnal. The plainchant tune, CHRISTE REDEMPTOR, captures the mystery and quiet joy of the original Latin hymn better than the 18th- and 19th-century melodies. As our Hymnal indicates, the tune is from the Sarum Use (for more on that liturgical tradition, see the page on another Sarum tune to which we sing “Creator of the stars of night”). The tune’s name is taken from the text with which it was associated, which begins: “Christe, Redemptor omnium, ex Patre, Patris unice, solus ante principium natus ineffabiliter” (“O Christ, Redeemer of us all, and of the Father only Son, thy birth alone unspeakably before beginning was begun”). This hymn was traditionally sung at Vespers on Christmas.
Here are the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey Saint Maurice Et Saint Maur, Clervaux, Luxemburg chanting this text and tune.
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.