O Faithful Cross

St Francis of Assisi by Master of Frankfurt

O faithful cross, O noblest tree,
In all our woods there’s none like thee.
No earthly groves, no shady bow’rs
Produce such leaves, such fruit, such flow’rs.
Sweet are the nails and sweet the wood,
That bear a weight so dear, so good.

Bend, tow’ring tree, thy branches bend,
Thy native rigor now suspend;
Let not stiff nature use her force,
Let gentler saps now have their course,
Do soft and mild thy burden bear,
Our dying Saviour kindly spare.

Thou, thou alone wert meet esteemed
The Lamb to bear, who man redeem’d;
Thy spreading arms, like balance true,
Weigh’d out the price for sinners due;
And on thy altar meekly laid
The Son of God atonement made.

O tree of glory, tree of life,
That marks the world’s most wondrous strife!
What erst of shame the sign had been
To Jesus now the world doth win:
Lo! from the cross, His altar throne,
He sweetly draws and sways His own.

Ludwig Bonvin, “Hosanna” Catholic Hymn Book, 4th ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1914).

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