Ah! lovely innocence, how evil art thou deem’d,
How lightly oft thy work by all the world’s esteem’d!
Thou servest God, thy Lord, and to His word thou cleavest;
For this, from men thou nought but scorn and hate receivest.
Right on thy road thou go’st, flee’st from the crooked way;
Another steppeth in and bears the prize away,
Increaseth his small store, his chests and barns he filleth;
Thou’rt poor with all thy house, scarce earn’st what hunger stilleth.
The wicked one thou chid’st, who walks not righteously,
Another practiseth a sweet hypocrisy
That love and praise secures, and him on high upraises,
While in the lurch the world thee leaves, and much abases.
Thou say’st that virtue is the Christian’s fairest crown,
But reputation doth the world lay stress upon;
He who will this secure, it saith, must ever labour
To suit the times, and live and act just like his neighbour.
Thou boast’st thyself in God, thy tongue doth aye commend
The blessing God doth as His children’s portion send:
“If this be then the case,” the world says, “come and show it,
The happy fortune thou hast had, we’d see and know it.”
Stand firm, thou pious heart, stand firm, thy faith retain!
’Mid disappointment sore thy God will true remain,
Commit thy ways to Him, let Him protect and guide thee,
Thou’lt triumph at the last o’er evils that betide thee.
Dost fail to please thy kind?—It is a sad disgrace!
Enough, if on thee smile thy heav’nly Father’s face.
The worst that man can do is to betray and leave thee;
But God is righteous, and His judgment can’t deceive thee.
Doth He say, “Thou art Mine, thy way doth please Me well?”
Then be thy heart consol’d, let joy thy bosom swell,
Cast to the wind the lies by wicked men indited,
Be still, and thou shalt see, by God shall all be righted.
Pride, arrogance, and pomp are ne’er enduring found,
Like brightest glass they fall, and break upon the ground;
So when the luck of men has mounted up to heaven,
It soon comes crashing down, and on the earth lies riven.
And all ill-gotten wealth, when right our estimate,
Is on the heart and mind a dead oppressive weight
That burdens evermore, with pain the conscience wringeth,
Its quiet rest disturbs, and into trouble bringeth.
And what have many more than of the poor the sweat?
What do they eat and drink, and what gain do they get?
They rob the widows’ store, spite of their tears them wronging,
Who like a thirsty land for sympathy are longing.
Is this felicity? is this magnificence?
Oh! what a sentence dire will God the Judge pronounce
Upon the day of doom, when from His throne so loudly
It sounds, how shall they seem who strut and boast so proudly!
But thou who now thy God dost honour with whole heart,
And never from His ways dost let thy feet depart,
Shalt in the goodly throng, whom God with manna feedeth,
With praise and honour clad, walk with Him where he leadeth.
In patience, then, possess thy soul a little while,
Do right, and persevere and live all free from guile,
Act that the fairest prize in yonder life be given
Thee, from His gracious hand who rules in earth and heaven.
Whate’er on earth betide, from care remain all free,
’Twill fall out for thy good, as God the best may see;
Rest thou assur’d, He will no wish of thine deny thee,
With joy fulfil thy will, with every good supply thee.
Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs, 1867
|First Line:||Ah! lovely innocence, how evil art thou deem'd|
|Title:||Under the Vexations of the Wicked Prosperous World|
|German Title:||Du liebe Unschuld du, wie schlecht wirst du geachtt!|
|Translator:||J. Kelly (1867)|
|Copyright:||This text in in the public domain in the United States because it was published before 1923.|