For the season of Lent, we offer our translations of Greiffenberg’s series based on the Seven Last Words of Christ. These “words,” or brief sayings, gathered from the four gospel accounts, are Christ’s last utterances on the cross. For centuries, Christians have used them in Lenten devotions. Many composers have set this group of texts to music.
The first: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
Forgive, O Father, what they do to me. The deed is wicked; yet my spilt blood is good for the wicked, even for those who spilled it. I offer it for those so keen to wound me: life, in my blood, destroys the murderers' death. My blood, a fiery passion for the world, is also a wondrous flood that wipes out sin, wringing forgiveness out of every drop. If only they repent their evil, it will be atoned. My grace rejoices in repentance and humility. I want the power of my blood to serve all people: none should forgo salvation, fearing their unworthiness. Who is more unworthy than those who wound me? Yet if they trust me, I will make them whole.
Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.