407

If You But Trust in God to Guide You

Full Text

1 If you but trust in God to guide you
and place your confidence in him,
you'll find him always there beside you
to give you hope and strength within;
for those who trust God's changeless love
build on the rock that will not move.

2 Only be still and wait his pleasure
in cheerful hope with heart content.
He fills your needs to fullest measure
with what discerning love has sent;
doubt not our inmost wants are known
to him who chose us for his own.

3 Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving,
offer your service faithfully,
and trust his word; though undeserving,
you'll find his promise true to be.
God never will forsake in need
the soul that trusts in him indeed.

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Difficult times occur in the lives and communities of God’s people because this is a fallen world. The confessions demonstrate this perspective:
  • Belgic Confession, Article 15 teaches that “…by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race…a corruption of the whole human nature...” As a result, God’s people are “guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all [our] ways” (Article 14). In addition, “The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions” (Article 12).
  • Our World Belongs to God continues to affirm that “God has not abandoned the work of his hands,” nevertheless “our world, fallen into sin, has lost its first goodness...” (paragraph 4). And now “all spheres of life—family and friendship, work and worship school and state, play and art—bear the wounds of our rebellion” (paragraph 16).
Yet, in a fallen world, God’s providential care is the source of great assurance, comfort and strength. Through these thoughts, our trust in God is inspired.
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13 is a reminder that God’s providence reassures us that God leads and governs all in this world “according to his holy will…nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.” Further, this Confession identifies that this “gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care...in this thought we rest.”
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13, is a reminder that much is beyond human understanding and so “we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 we testify that we “trust God so much that [we] do not doubt that he will provide whatever [we] need for body and soul and will turn to [our] good whatever adversity he sends upon [us] in this sad world.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 28, we are assured that through our trust in the providence of God we can have “good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.”
  • When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask not to be brought into the time of trial but rescued from evil. In doing so we ask that the Lord will “uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 127)
Belgic Confession, Article 26 speaks about the intercession of Christ as the ascended Lord. “We have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” We, therefore, do not offer our prayers as though saints could be our intercessor, nor do we offer them on the “basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Because Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest, we approach the throne “in full assurance of faith.”
 
No greater assurance can be found than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “I am not my own by I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
 

In all difficult times, we eagerly await the final day when God “will set all things right, judge evil, and condemn the wicked” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57).

407

If You But Trust in God to Guide You

Introductory/Framing Text

Neumark wrote this text at age twenty, just after he had finally been able to find employment as a tutor for a judge in Kiel. Neumark was so relieved and grateful to God by his change in circumstance that he wrote this text, saying, "This good fortune, which came so suddenly and, as it were, from heaven, so rejoiced my heart that I wrote my hymn 'Wer nur . . .' to the glory of my God on that first day."
 
Written in Kiel, Germany, in 1641, the seven-stanza text ("Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten") had the following heading: "a hymn of consolation, that God will care for and preserve his own in his own time; after the saying 'cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee.' Psalm 55:22." The text was published with the tune, also composed by Neumark, in Fortgepflanzter Musikalisch-Poetischer Lustwald (1657).
 
Catherine Winkworth prepared two translations of the original German text: one published in her Lyra Germanica (1855) and one published with substantial revision in her Chorale Book for England (1863), in which the first stanza began "If thou but suffer God to guide thee." Winkworth's revised translation of Neumark's original Stanzas 1, 3, and 7 is the basis for the three stanzas found in Lift Up Your Hearts.
 
A classic German chorale, this fine text focuses on trust in God's care in all of life's circumstances, both prosperous times and "evil days." As Christians we are counseled to be confident (st. 1), to have patience (st. 2), and to be faithful in service (st. 3).
Published in 1657, WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT is also known as NEUMARK. Johann S. Bach used the tune in its isorhythmic shape (all equal rhythms) in his cantatas 21, 27, 84, 88, 93, 166, 179, and 197. Many Lutheran composers have also written organ preludes on this tune.
 
WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT is a bar form (AAB) with rhythmic interest and mainly stepwise melodic lines. Sing in a steady unison on stanzas 1 and 3 and in harmony on stanza 2 with a quieter organ registration.
Georg Neumark wrote this text in thanksgiving to God for providing employment, but its confession of confidence in God’s providence is also inspired by his experience of God’s care during the difficult time of the Thirty Years’ War. Neumark later composed a tune for his text, and his hymn is much loved in various Christian traditions. The English translation is much revised from that prepared by Catherine Winkworth in her Choral Book for England (1863)
— Bert Polman
407

If You But Trust in God to Guide You

Tune Information

Name
NEUMARK (WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT)
Key
g minor
Meter
9.8.9.8.8.8

Recordings

407

If You But Trust in God to Guide You

Author and Composer Information

Georg Neumark (b. Langensalza, Thuringia, Germany, 1621; d. Weimar, Germany, 1681) lived during the time of the Thirty Years' War, when social and economic conditions were deplorable. He had personal trials as well. On his way to Königsberg to study at the university, traveling in the comparative safety of a group of merchants, he was robbed of nearly all his possessions. During the next two years he spent much of his time looking for employment. He finally secured a tutoring position in Kiel. When he had saved enough money, he returned to the University of Königsberg and studied there for five years. In Königsberg he again lost all his belongings, this time in a fire. Despite his personal suffering Neumark wrote many hymns in which he expressed his absolute trust in God. In 1651 he settled in Weimar, Thuringia, where he became court poet and archivist to Duke Johann Ernst and librarian and registrar of the city. Neumark wrote thirty-four hymns, of which "If You But Trust in God to Guide You" has become a classic.
— Bert Polman
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