Lord Jesus, Think on Me

“Lord Jesus, Think on Me” is a translation and free paraphrase of a 5th-century poem by Synesius of Cyrene (ca. 375-414), Bishop of Ptolemais in north Africa and contemporary of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430).

Synesius was a public servant and statesman, a neo-Platonic philosopher and poet. In 410, he was popularly chosen as Bishop of Ptolemais, a position he reluctantly accepted, as his views on certain beliefs of the church, including the soul’s creation, a literal resurrection, and the end of the world (eschatos) were unorthodox.

In the last of 10 odes Synesius authored, he describes himself bowing humbly in the presence of Christ. In the 1930s, a literal prose translation of the ode was made by the Anglican cleric Harold Costley-White:

Be mindful, Christ Son of God
who rules on high, of thy servant,
sinful of heart, who wrote these words.
And grant to me release from passions breeding death,
which are inborn in my unclean soul.
But give me to behold, Saviour Jesus,
thy divine brightness, wherein appearing
I shall sing a song,
to the healer of souls,
to the healer of limbs,
with the great Father
and the Holy Spirit.

The text of this setting for SATB voices and organ selects verses from a free paraphrase of that ode, crafted by the Anglican priest and scholar, Allen William Chatfield (1808-1896) and published in his Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets (1876):

Lord Jesus, think on me and purge away my sin;
from earthborn passions set me free, and make me pure within.
Lord Jesus, think on me, nor let me go astray;
through darkness and perplexity point Thou the heav’nly way.
Lord Jesus, think on me amid the battle’s strife;
in all my pain and misery be Thou my Health and Life.
Lord Jesus, think on me with many a care oppressed;
let me Thy loving servant be and taste Thy promised rest.
Lord Jesus, think on me that I may sing above
to Father, Spirit, and to Thee the strains of praise and love.

The incipit of each verse, “Lord Jesus, think on [remember] me,” recalls the words of the penitent thief to Jesus at their crucifixion; and the petitions for guidance, forgiveness, and succor make this a fitting anthem for the penitential season of Lent.

SATB/piano score (4 pages, 8.5×11″) — $2.00 USD/copy

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