Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

Lent is my favorite season of the church year. I love and appreciate the introspection, the consideration of our own mortality and sin, and the reminder of the Lord’s sacrifice. It’s always moving for me, and in a church year that is otherwise full of celebration and rejoicing, Lent feels like a quiet moment of pause.

My all-time favorite hymn (of any season, not just Lent) is the Good Friday hymn “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted,” the title of which derives from the prophet Isaiah foretelling the death of the Messiah:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:3-5 (KJV)

I appreciate this hymn because (1) I’m naturally drawn to dark and brooding hymns, particularly about repentance; (2) I believe it calls all of us to think on our thoughts, words and deeds, to seek humility, and frankly, to consider our sin and guilt. (I’m generally of the opinion that Christianity in America has become too modern and celebratory, too full of pop-theology happy talk, guitars and hipster coffees, PowerPoints and sing-a-longs, like a church version of Chuck-E-Cheese. But that’s a rant for a different post.)

My favorite line of this hymn (full lyrics below) is:

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.

For all of us, myself included, who have become accustomed to sin, who have let it creep into the corners of our lives (or perhaps smack dab in the middle), and for all who deny there is great evil in the world that threatens the nature of God’s creation, we need look only to the cross to be reminded of the wages of sin, and the price paid for us.

For your Good Friday reflection, here is a fairly decent rendition of the song (though it lacks the impressiveness of a massive organ).


“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted”

by Thomas Kelly, 1769-1854

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He! ’tis He!
‘Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ’s the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

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