The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I grew up listening to my dad’s favorite musicians, the Melody Four. In his beautiful tenor voice, he sang along with every song, on every record. One that I loved in particular was Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee. Here’s their rendition from 1962.

How surprised and delighted I was to discover, as a Catholic, that the setting I had always known was an 1849 translation of a hymn that goes much further back, all the way to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. A few stanzas of this hymn are used in the Latin liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Today I’m using it in honor of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and I’m sure he wont mind.

Here it is, in Latin, with the English translation below.

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.

Jesu, spes paenitentibus,
quam pius es petentibus!
quam bonus te quaerentibus!
sed quid invenientibus?

Nec lingua valet dicere,
nec littera exprimere:
expertus potest credere,
quid sit Jesum diligere.

Sis, Jesu, nostrum gaudium,
qui es futurum praemium:
sit nostra in te gloria,
per cuncta semper saecula.

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.

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