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Friday, January 7, 2011

Christian Treasures from the 1600s

I always come away stimulated after devotional readings by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. One reading he had talked about a song by Paul Gerhardt that had special meaning to him. He listed the title, "Beside your cradle here I stand." But I struggled to find that exact title on the Internet. In fact I found variations of it, and it appears the actual title might be "Before Thy Manger, Lord, I Stand." There are several verses; here is one, translated:

"Beside Thy cradle here I stand,
O though that ever livest
And bring Thee with a willing hand
The very gifts Thou givest.
Accept me; 'tis my mind and heart,
My soul, my strength, my every part,
That thou from me requirest."

Paul Gerhardt was a well-known German Lutheran hymn writer and poet, second only to Martin Luther. He was born in 1607, apparently orphaned as a teenager by the end of the Thirty Years War, and died in 1676. He had authored 132 poems/hymns, with the majority of them published from 1649 on. Much information was gleaned from "Paul Gerhardt as a hymn writer and his influence on English hymnody” by Theodore Brown Hewitt,

I came across a PDF file, "Heirs of the Reformation: Treasures of the Singing Church," and found the hymn, "Evening and Morning," which was written by Gerhardt in 1666. It was originally titled "Morning Blessing" and contained 12 verses in German. The verses most common are the ones written below, stanzas/verses 4 and 9.

Evening and morning, sunset and dawning,
Wealth, peace and gladness, comfort in sadness,
These are Thy works; all the glory be Thine!
Times without number, awake or in slumber,
Thine eye observes us, from danger preserves us,
Causing Thy mercy upon us to shine.

Father, O hear me, pardon and spare me;
Calm all my terrors, blot out my errors,
That by Thine eyes they may no more be scanned.
Order my goings, direct all my doings;
As it may please Thee retain or release me;
All I commit to Thy fatherly hand.

You don't see this poetic language as much today.

On I came across another of Gerhardt's hymns, "Befiehl du deine Wege." Of course it is in German - I don't know what it means in English. The information with the video indicates the text is based on Psalm 37:5. Every strophe begins with one word of this one verse. The whole song is a comforting one and spiritually edifying. "Command your way and what's hurting your heart to the most faithful care of the one, who governs the heaven" is the beginning of the first strophe. In all your sorrows the Lord stands beside you and leads you.

It is beautiful music, truly comforting and uplifting, praising our Lord. May you be blessed.

1 comment:

  1. Good spiritual blog.
    I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6