Text: Synesius of Cyrene (370-430)
Translation: Allen William Chatfield (1808-1896)
Music: Samuel Howard (1710-1782)
Tune name: ST. BRIDE
Synesius of Cyrene, noted as a philosopher and statesman, was made bishop of Ptolemais (now in modern Libya) in 410. The text of this hymn was an epilogue/prayer appended to a collection of nine other hymns. The text we sing is more of a poetic paraphrase than a translation. A more literal translation of the original is offered by Erik Routley in his A Panorama of Christian Hymnody:
Christ, Son of the most high God, remember your servant, a man of sinful heart, who writes this; send deliverance from sorrows and griefs to my soul, born in sin; Jesus, Savior, grant me to see your divine radiance, so that having seen, I may sing a song, praises in my soul, praises in my body, to the Father with the great Holy Spirit.
Translator Allen William Chatfield was a distinguished classical scholar at Cambridge, later an Anglican priest. This hymn was included in his Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets, Bishops, and Others, Translated into English Verse (1876). In that original publication, Chatfield included five stanzas in addition to the four in our Hymnal.
1. Lord Jesus, think on me,
and purge away my sin;
from earth-born passions set me free,
and make me pure within.
2. Lord Jesus, think on me,
with care and woe oppressed,
let me thy loving servant be,
and taste thy promised rest.
3. Lord Jesus, think on me,
nor let me go astray;
through darkness and perplexity
point thou the heav’nly way.
4. Lord Jesus, think on me,
that, when the flood is past,
I may eternal brightness see,
and share thy joy at last.
Samual Howard was a chorister of the Chapel Royal, later an organist at two London churches, including St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, after which this tune was named. The tune was first published in 1762, set to Psalm 130. It has also appeared under the name ALL SAINTS’ (a name currently associated with a different tune).
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.