O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.*
In the days of the Middle Ages, the word 'pity' did not mean the milky, soft emotion that it does now. It came from the word 'piety', and meant a divine compassion shot through with strength and truth, inspired by the Father of all Piety. May we pray that on this day, a day of such gravity for the future of our nation, the Almighty may look on our prayers with his 'pity without end', and renew our nation.
*From 'O Sacred Head Now Wounded' by Bernard of Clairvaux