Alas dear Lord, what evil hast Thou done

Alas dear Lord, what evil hast Thou done

Author: Johann Heermann (1630); Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1855)
Published in 2 hymnals

Representative Text

Alas dear Lord, what evil hast Thou done,
That such sharp sentence from Thy judge hath won?
What are His crimes, and what the guilt, oh, tell
Wherein He fell!

They scourge Him, crown Him with a crown of thorn,
They smite His face with bitter mock and scorn,
They give Him gall to drink, they pierce His side,
The Crucified!

From head to foot was there no spot in me
Unscarred by sin, from taint of evil free;
My sins had weighed me down that I should dwell
For aye in Hell.

Whence come these sorrows, whence this cruel woe?
It was my sins that struck the fatal blow;
Mine were the wrath and anguish, dearest Lord,
On Thee outpoured.

What strangest punishment! The Shepherd good
For erring sheep here pours His own heart's blood,
The servants' debts are on the Master laid,
Who all hath paid.

Oh wondrous love, love that no measure knows,
That brought Thee, Christ, to drink this cup of woes!
Full of the world's vain joys and hopes was I,
While Thou must die!

O mighty King! mighty beyond all time!
Fain would I sound Thy praise through every clime!
A gift were meet for Thee, my anxious thought
Long time hath sought.

But human wisdom searches, Lord, in vain
To find aught like Thy pity, or Thy pain.
How shall my works, though toiling day and night,
Thy love requite?

Yet have I somewhat that my Lord can please;
I can renounce sweet sins and selfish ease,
And quinch the unhallowed fires that back would lure
To thoughts impure.

But since my strength, alas, will ne'er prevail
My strong desires upon the cross to nail,
Oh let Thy Spirit rule my heart, who leads
To all good deeds.

Then shall Thy mercy fill my every thought,
I love Thee so, the world to me is nought;
My sole endeavour, Lord, is to fulfil
Thy holy will.

My all I risk to magnify Thy name,
No cross shall daunt me, no reproach or shame;
Man's fiercest threats I will not lay to heart,
Nor Death's worst smart.

In truth my sacrifice is nothing worth,
Yet Thou in mercy wilt not cast it forth;
Thou'lt put me not to shame but for love's sake
My offering take.

Lord Jesus, once on high amongst Thine own,
Shall I stand crowned with light before Thy throne!
Where sweetest hymns are ever ringing round,
My voice shall sound.

Source: Lyra Germanica: The Christian Year #33

Author: Johann Heermann

Johann Heermann's (b. Raudten, Silesia, Austria, 1585; d. Lissa, Posen [now Poland], 1647) own suffering and family tragedy led him to meditate on Christ's undeserved suffering. The only surviving child of a poor furrier and his wife, Heermann fulfilled his mother's vow at his birth that, if he lived, he would become a pastor. Initially a teacher, Heermann became a minister in the Lutheran Church in Koben in 1611 but had to stop preaching in 1634 due to a severe throat infection. He retired in 1638. Much of his ministry took place during the Thirty Years' War. At times he had to flee for his life and on several occasions lost all his possessions. Although Heermann wrote many of his hymns and poems during these devastating times, his persona… Go to person page >

Translator: Catherine Winkworth

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 i… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Alas dear Lord, what evil hast Thou done
German Title: Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du
Author: Johann Heermann (1630)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1855)
Meter: 10.10.10.4
Language: English

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Lyra Germanica #77

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Lyra Germanica #33

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