At the cross, her station keeping, Stood the mournful mother weeping, Where He hung, the dying Lord; For her soul of joy bereavèd, Bowed with anguish, deeply grievèd, Felt the sharp and piercing sword.
Oh, how sad and sore distressèd Now was she, that mother blessèd Of the sole begotten One; Deep the woe of her affliction, When she saw the crucifixion Of her ever glorious Son.
Who, on Christ’s dear mother gazing Pierced by anguish so amazing Born of woman, would not weep? Who, on Christ’s dear mother thinking Such a cup of sorrow drinking Would not share her sorrows deep?
For His people’s sins chastisèd, She beheld her Son despisèd, Scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined; Saw Him then from judgment taken, And in death by all forsaken, Till His Spirit He resigned.
Jesu, may her deep devotion Stir in me the same emotion, Fount of love, Redeemer kind, That my heart fresh ardor gaining, And a purer love attaining, May with Thee acceptance find.
Words: Latin, thirteenth century;
You can here the tune hereor you might prefer Karl Jenkin’s stunning And the Mother Did Weep from his Album Stabat Mater here.
This beautiful, touching, hymn – also known as Stabat Mater – is used as part of the “Stations of the Cross” liturgy and tries to put into words the stark horror Mary must have felt watching her son being put to death. Well-chosen words put to music stir our emotions in a way nothing else can and this hymn brings into sharp focus Mary’s heartbreak. I have long thought that no words of mine could adequately describe what Mary must have been feeling that day. When Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart too – did she ever in her worst nightmares think that it would end like this? Her beautiful boy, her baby that the angel told her would be very special, this child she had carried as they fled to Egypt, the one she had nursed through childhood ailments – suffering such agony now, and Mary could do nothing. Standing helplessly watching – was she aware of anything other than the scream of her heart?
Which of us hasn’t held our children when they were suffering pain and prayed to be somehow allowed to suffer in their stead? And Mary – who showed such courage when she was asked to give birth to this child, her courage tested now to it’s very limit – waiting, watching, waiting – to be allowed to hold her son once more, to be allowed to take his body and prepare it for the tomb – to do this last thing for him, to in some way bring salve to her breaking heart.
Loving God, you know us in our weaknesses, forgive us when we are tempted to run from the difficult times, when we turn from you in our distress, we pray for courage to turn and face another day. Amen
Ann Honey is a Church Related Community Worker serving at Robert Stewart Memorial Church in Fenham.