He Bore Our Griefs – J. Revius (1586-1658)

JRevius-dutch-poetAs we mark National Poetry month (April) and Good Friday this week, we may well ponder this poem by Dutch Calvinist Jacobus Revius (1586-1658), “a Protestant Baroque poet of the Netherlands.” The title is “He Bore Our Griefs” and is based on Isaiah 53.

No, it was not the Jews who crucified,
Nor who, Lord Jesus, spat into your face,
Nor who betrayed you in the judgment place,
Nor who with buffets struck you as you died.

No, it was not the soldiers fisted bold
Who lifted up the hammer and the nail,
Or raised the cross on Calvary’s cursed hill,
Or cast the dice to win your seamless robe.

I am the one, O Lord, who brought you there,
I am the heavy cross you had to bear,
I am the rope that bound you to the tree,

The whip, the nail, the hammer, and the spear,
The bloody, thorny crown you had to wear:
It was my sin, O Lord, it was for me.

by Jacobus Revius (Translated by Henrietta ten Harmsel)

This poem can be found in multiple places in print and online. It was published in The Reformed Journal, as well as in Leland Ryken’s collection of poems, titled The Soul in Paraphrase: A Treasury of Classic Devotional Poems (Crossway, 2018). At that link you may also find Ryken’s helpful commentary on this poem, which includes these words:

The poem is a confession of guilt addressed directly to Christ in a prayer-like stance. …Jesus’ death was an atoning substitutionary death for sinners, so that every sinner for whom Christ died can be said to be the one who killed him. In this poem, Revius does what his contemporary Dutch artist Rembrandt did when he painted himself at the foot of the cross as Christ is raised on it (in Raising of the Cross).

Below is an image of the original poem in Dutch.

Revius-poem-he-bore-our-griefs-Dutch

Published in: on April 17, 2019 at 11:03 PM  Leave a Comment