The following is my metrical translation of a Latin hymn from the Middle Ages. Its original author is anonymous; in fact, the date of its composition isn’t certain (probably sometime between the 12th and 16th centuries). Its usual time of singing, however, is the hour of Sext (or noon, the sixth hour). The first two lines reflect two different occasions. The first comes from John 4. Jesus enters the town of Sychar, and wearied from His journey, sits by Jacob’s well; John tells us that the time “was about the sixth hour.” (John 4:6). This is the setting for the “Samaritan Woman at the Well” episode in which our Lord Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink (John 4:7-14ff.). Of course, as the second line reminds us, Jesus also suffered on the cross during the sixth hour; thus, the author directs our minds to the Lord’s thirst on the cross. And as we remember how our Lord thirsted, we sing that we would be thirsty – not for water, but for righteousness in Christ (Matthew 5:6), and hungry – not for food, but for Christ Himself (John 6:48-51)! We who are united to Christ through faith by the working of the Holy Spirit are led and empowered by the Spirit to mortify the flesh (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5-6) and to put on christlikeness (Colossians 3:12-17; Ephesians 4:17ff.). This short song is an excellent reminder in the middle of the day that we are to live for Christ always!
Notes: 1) The lyrics may be sung to any 18.104.22.168. tune; I prefer Old 100th (e.g., “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” or “Doxology”). 2) In the second stanza I translate “cosmic crime” rather than “sin” because the word that is used here is not the typical Latin word for “sin” but for “crime”, and as the crime is against the Lord, it is a crime of cosmic treason (to quote the late Dr. Sproul). 3) That being said, the song is not an exact translation, but near as I could be in this particular poetic form.
The hour on which the Christ did thirst,
Or on the cross did wrath endure –
Enrich us as we sing this hour
With deeper thirst for righteousness.
May we a hunger also feel
Which He Himself may satisfy,
That cosmic crime might make us sick
And virtue be our soul’s desire.
O may the Holy Spirit’s gift
So rush into us as we sing,
That carnal fires may be cooled
And cold minds boil with fervent heat.