JESUS, THE VERY THOUGHT OF THEE
Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091–1153
English Translation—Edward Caswall, 1814–1876
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1, 2)
This hymn text comes from the height of the Middle Ages, a period of history often scornfully called “The Dark Ages.” The spiritual and moral darkness of the church had reached a new blackness. The institution founded by Christ some 1,000 years prior was mainly degenerate and corrupt. The moral standards of many of its prominent leaders were characterized by disgrace and shame. Yet within this system of religious confusion, God laid it upon the heart of a dedicated monk to write a devotional poem about his Lord that has since become the text for one of the finest hymns in our hymnals. As was true then and now, God always has a remnant of true believers who maintain His eternal truths.
At an early age Bernard was known for his piety and scholarship. With his natural charms and talents, he had many opportunities open to him for a successful secular life. While still in his early 20’s, however, he chose the life of a monk at the monastery of Citeaux, France. Within three years Bernard’s forceful personality, talents, and leadership qualities were recognized, and he was asked to form other branches of this order throughout Europe. Within Bernard’s lifetime 162 other such orders were founded. One of these new monasteries was at Clairvaux, France, where Bernard was made its abbot or head. Here he remained until his death in 1153.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee with sweetness fills my breast; but sweeter far Thy face to see and in Thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, nor can the mem’ry find a sweeter sound than Thy blest name, O Savior of mankind.
O hope of ev’ry 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 joy be Thou, as Thou our prize wilt be; Jesus, be Thou our glory now and thru eternity.
For Today: Psalm 66:2; 130:7; Jeremiah 17:7; Ephesians 3:19
Earnestly seek to be one of God’s faithful remnant—“salt” and “light”—keeping His truths alive for this generation to hear and believe.