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Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now

Full Text

1 Lord Jesus Christ, be present now;
our hearts in true devotion bow.
Your Spirit send with light divine,
and let your truth within us shine.

2 Unseal our lips to sing your praise
in endless hymns through all our days;
increase our faith and light our minds;
and set us free from doubt that binds.

3 Then shall we join the hosts that cry,
"O holy, holy, Lord Most High!"
And in the light of that blest place
we then shall see you face to face.

4 All glory to the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity,
be praise throughout eternity!

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are called to and gathered to give worship to all three members of the Trinity. Belgic Confession, Article 8, gives the clearest explanation of the three persons of the Trinity, including not only their identity, but also their nature and tasks: “The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible and invisible. The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.”

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Questions and Answers 24 and 25 does so in much briefer form. As does the Belhar Confession, Section 1: “We believe in the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. This, God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end.”


Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now

Call to Worship

Optional opening of worship (based on Ps. 124:8, 118:24, 51:15)
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
This is the day the Lord has made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O Lord, open our lips,
And our mouths shall declare your praise.
— Lift Up Your Hearts (

Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now

Tune Information

F Major



Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now

Hymn Story/Background

This hymn came into English use through the work of one of the greatest translators of German hymns, Catherine Winkworth, who lived for a time in Germany. It was first published in English in her Chorale Book for England (1863). The tune is named for the incipit (opening words) of the original German text published in the mid-17th century. Like many tunes of the time, it moves in a lilting rhythm back and forth between triple and duple meter. In the German Lutheran hymnals it was intended to be sung before the sermon; the first stanza like a sung prayer for illumination. English-language hymnals have placed this sung prayer at the beginning of the service. 
— Emily Brink

This tune first appeared in the Cantionale Germanicum, Gochsheim, 1628, and was published with the present text when it appeared in 1651. One tradition traces the melody back to John Huss. In addition to a harmonization in Choralgesänge, J.S. Bach wrote four organ settings of this tune, which are included in Orgelbüchlein, the Eighteen Chorales, and the Miscellaneous Preludes. 
Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, Fortress Press, 1981, p. 327
— Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship

Author Information

Wilhelm (II. or IV.), Duke of Sachse-Weimar, son of Duke Johann of Sachse-Weimar (b. Altenberg, Germany, April 11, 1598; d. Weimar, Germany, May 17, 1662), was born in the castle of Altenburg. He studied for some time at the University of Jena, devoting himself especially to music and mathematics. On the outbreak of the Thirty Years War he espoused the cause of Friedrich V. of the Palatinate. At the battle of the Weisse Berg, near Prague, he was severely wounded, and at the battle fought near Stadtlohn, in Westphalia (Aug., 1623), he was at first left for dead, and then taken prisoner by Tilly. In 1625 the Emperor allowed him to go free, and he assumed the government of Weimar. When Gustavus Adolphus came to Germany (1630), Wilhelm did not join him till after the battle of Breitenfeld (Sept., 1631), and in July, 1635, he was one of the consenting parties to the Peace of Prague between Saxony and the Emperor, in consequence of which the Swedish troops made various inroads on his territory. When the final partition took place, in 1644, between himself and his surviving brother (Sachse-Weimar fell to Wilhelm, and Gotha to Ernst) he set himself earnestly to restore prosperity and godliness in the regions under his rule. He also found more time (especially after the peace of Westphalia, 1648), to devote to his studies in poetry and music, and to the adornment of Weimar. 
— John Julian Dictionary of Hymnology

Catherine Winkworth (b. Holborn, London, England, 1827; d. Monnetier, Savoy, France, 1878) is well known for her English translations of German hymns; her translations were polished and yet remained close to the original. Educated initially by her mother, she lived with relatives in Dresden, Germany, in 1845, where she acquired her knowledge of German and interest in German hymnody. After residing near Manchester until 1862, she moved to Clifton, near Bristol. A pioneer in promoting women's rights, Winkworth put much of her energy into the encouragement of higher education for women. She translated a large number of German hymn texts from hymnals owned by a friend, Baron Bunsen. Though often altered, these translations continue to be used in many modern hymnals. Her work was published in two series of Lyra Germanica (1855, 1858) and in The Chorale Book for England (1863), which included the appropriate German tune with each text as provided by Sterndale Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt. Winkworth also translated biographies of German Christians who promoted ministries to the poor and sick and compiled a handbook of biographies of German hymn authors, Christian Singers of Germany (1869).
— Bert Polman
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