1 Ach Gott vom Himmel, sieh darein
und laß dich deß erbarmen:
wie wenig sind der Heilgen dein,
verlassen sind wir Armen.
Dein Wort man läßt nicht haben wahr,
der Glaub ist auch verloschen gar
bei allen Menschenkindern.
2 Sie lehren eitel falsche List,
was eigen Witz erfindet;
ihr Herz nicht Eines Sinnes ist,
in Gottes Wort gegründet.
Der wählet dies, der andre das,
sie trennen uns ohn alle Maaß;
und gleißen schön von außen.
3 Gott wollt ausrotten alle Lehr,
die falschen Schein uns lehren,
dazu ihr Zung stolz offenbar
spricht: trotz! wer will's uns wehren?
Wir haben Recht und Macht allein,
was wir setzen, das gilt gemein:
wer ist, der uns soll meistern?
4 Darum, spricht Gott: ich muß auf sein,
die Armen sind verstöret;
ihr Seufzen dringt zu mir herein,
ich hab ihr klag erhöret.
Mein heilsam Wort soll auf dem Plan,
getrost und frisch sie greifen an,
und sein die Kraft der Armen.
5 Das Silber, durchs Feur siebenmal
bewährt, wird lauter funden:
an Gottes Wort man warten soll
desgleichen alle Stunden.
Es will durchs Kreuz bewähret sein.
Da wird sein Kraft erkannt und Schein,
und leucht stark in die Lande.
6 Das wollst du, Gott, bewahren rein
vor diesem argen G'schlechte;
und laß uns dir befohlen sein,
daß sich's in uns nicht flechte.
Der gottlos Hauf sich umher findt,
wo diese losen Leute sind,
in deinem olk erhaben.
Source: Evang.-Lutherisches Gesangbuch #248
Suggested tunes: AUS TIEFER NOT; ACH GOTT VOM HIMMEL
Ach Gott vom Himmel, sieh darein. Martin Luther [Ps. xii.]. This free rendering of Ps. xii., adapted to the times, which Bunsen (Versuch, 1833, p. 854) calls "a cry for help from the Church founded on the Word of God for protection against its contemners and corrupters," was probably written in 1523 and first published in the Etlich cristlich lider, Wittenberg, 1524, in 6 stanzas of 7 lines. The seventh stanza, a doxology, was added inEyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524, but has not been translated into English…It is a companion to Luther's "Nun freut euch liehen Christengmein," and like it greatly furthered the cause of the Reformation.
Lauxmann, in Koch, viii. 521-526, relates that Dr. Sprütze, or Sprengel, of Magdeburg Cathedral, had gone by request of the Romish authorities to preach at Brunswick three sermons which were to uproot the Lutheran heresies. On the 22nd Sunday after Trinity, 1527, he preached on the parable of the Unmerciful Servant (St. Matt, xviii. 23-35) and declared salvation by good works. At the end of his sermon, a citizen began to sing this hymn, and as the whole congregation joined in, the discomfited priest at once left the pulpit, and never again preached in Brunswick. Again, on the 2nd Sunday in Advent, 1529, a preacher in St. Jacob's, Lübeck, exhorted to prayers for the dead, when two boys began this hymn, and the congregation following, sang the whole. Lauxmann adds that st. iv. comforted P. J. Spener when he heard it sung on his entering the church at Frankfurt-am-Main, at a time when days looked dark for the Church of Christ; that, when summoned to Dresden to occupy the responsible post of Court preacher, he was cheered by being saluted with it in the first Saxon village he entered; and that in Dresden it was often, at his request, sung by the scholars before his door.
Translations common use:—
1. Oh Lord our God, from heaven look down, in Miss Fry's Hymns of the Reformation, 1845, p. 30. In 1860 her translations of st. v. vi. rewritten to 5 stanza CM., beginning, "Almighty God, Thy truth shall stand," were included in J. Whittemore's Supplement to all Hymn Books, No. 44.
2. 0 God! look down from heav'n, we pray, a free translation condensing sts. ii., iii., as ii., by W. M. Reynolds, in the Evangelical Review, Gettysburg, July 1849, and as No. 965 in the General Synod’s Lutheran Hymn Book, 1850.
3. Ah God, look down from heaven and see, by R. Massie in his tr. of Luther's Spiritual Songs, 1854, p. 32. In 1880 it was given in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 147, as:—- "O God, look down from heaven and see."
4. Ah God, from heav'n look down, and see, omitting st. iii., by Miss Winkworth, as No. 101, in her Song Book for England, 1803.
Other trs. are :—
(1) "Helpe now, 0 Lorde, and loke on us," by Bishop Coverdale, 1539 (Remains, 1846, p. 567). (2) "Saif us, gude Lord, and succour send," in the Gude and Godly Ballates (ed. 1568, folio 45, ed. 1868, p. 76). (3) “0 Lord in Mercy cast an Eye," by J. G. Jacobi, 1722, p. 93 (1732, p. 165). (4) "Look down, O Lord, from heaven behold," by Miss Cox, 1841, p. 207, and thence in Dr. Bacon, 1884, p. 6. (5) "Ah, God! from heaven high look down," by J. Anderson, 1846, p. 31 (1847, p. 51). (6) "Ah! Lord, from heaven Thy people see," by Dr. J. Hunt, 1853, p. 60. (7) "On us, 0 Lord, in mercy look," by Dr. H. Mills, 1856, p. 119. (8) “Ah! God in heaven, look down anew," by Dr. G. Macdonald, in the Sunday Magazine, 1867, p. 449; and in his Exotics, 1876, p. 62, as "Ah God, from heaven look down and view." (9) “0 God, from heaven our troubles view," by F. W. Young, in the Family Treasury, 1877, p. 653. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)