Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the death of Bernard of Clairvaux, a French monk, who was very famous for his piety. He died on August 21, 1153.
He was the son of Tecelin of Clairvaux, a knight and vassal of the Duke of Burgundy. Bernard was educated at Chatillon, where he was distinguished by his studious and meditative habits. In 1113, he entered the monastery of Citeaux, and served the church by founding 163 monasteries around Europe.
Bernard was a man of exceptional piety and spiritual vitality. Martin Luther, 400 years later, called him, “the best monk that ever lived, whom I admire beyond all the rest put together.”
Bernard was not just a theologian but a musician, and he is the author of the oldest hymn that we have in our hymnal, “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.”
It was originally written in Latin and I want to share with you some of the lyrics:
Jesu, dulcis memoria,
dans vera cordis gaudia:
sed super mel et omnia
ejus dulcis praesentia.
Nil canitur suavius,
nil auditur jucundius,
nil cogitatur dulcius,
quam Jesus Dei Filius.
Edward Caswall translated the hymn to English in 1849:
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy Presence rest.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus' Name,
The Saviour of mankind.
O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! This
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.
Jesus! Our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity. Amen.
In His service,