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Christ the Life of all the living

Representative Text

1 Christ, the life of all the living,
Christ, the death of death, our foe;
who Thyself for me once giving
to the darkest depths of woe,
patiently didst yield Thy breath
but to save my soul from death;
praise and glory ever be,
blessed Jesus, unto Thee.

2 Thou, O Christ, hast taken on Thee
bitter strokes, a cruel rod;
pain and scorn were heaped upon Thee,
0 Thou sinless Son of God;
only thus for me to win,
rescue from the bonds of sin;
praise and glory ever be,
blessed Jesus, unto Thee.

3 Thou didst bear the smiting only
that it might not fall on me;
stoniest falsely charged and lonely
that I might be safe and free;
comfortless that I might know
comfort from Thy boundless woe;
praise and glory ever be,
blessed Jesus, unto Thee.

4 Then for all that wrought our pardon,
for the sorrows deep and sore,
for The anguish in the garden,
I will thank Thee evermore,
thank Thee with my latest breath
for Thy sad and cruel death,
for that last and bitter cry,
praise Thee evermore on high.

Source: Hymns to the Living God #162

Translator: Catherine Winkworth

Catherine Winkworth is "the most gifted translator of any foreign sacred lyrics into our tongue, after Dr. Neale and John Wesley; and in practical services rendered, taking quality with quantity, the first of those who have laboured upon German hymns. Our knowledge of them is due to her more largely than to any or all other translators; and by her two series of Lyra Germanica, her Chorale Book, and her Christian Singers of Germany, she has laid all English-speaking Christians under lasting obligation." --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872… Go to person page >

Author: Ernst C. Homburg

Homburg, Ernst Christoph, was born in 1605, at Mihla, near Eisenach. He practised at Nauraburg, in Saxony, as Clerk of the Assizes and Counsellor. In 1648 ho was admitted a member of the Fruitbearing Society, and afterwards became a member of the Elbe Swan Order founded by Rist in 1660. He died at Naumburg, Juno 2, 1681. (Koch, iii. 388, 392; Allegemeine Deutsche Biographie, xiii. 43, 44.) By his contemporaries Homburg was regarded as a poet of the first rank. His earlier poems, 1638-1653, were secular, including many love and drinking songs. Domestic troubles arising from the illnesses of himself and of his wife, and other afflictions, led him to seek the Lord, and the deliverances he experienced from pestilence and from violence led him… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Christ the Life of all the living
German Title: Jesu, meines Lebens Leben
Translator: Catherine Winkworth
Author: Ernst C. Homburg (1659)
Meter: with refrain
Language: English
Refrain First Line: thousand, thousand thanks are due
Copyright: Public Domain


Ernst C. Homburg (b. Mihla, near Eisenach, Germany, 1605; d. Naumberg, Germany, 1681) wrote this German chorale text (“Jesu, meines Lebens Leben”), which was published in Part One of his Geistliche Lieder (1658). Homburg, who wrote most of his hymns for his own devotions, described his eight-stanza text as a "hymn of thanksgiving to his Redeemer and Savior for his bitter sufferings." In early life Homburg was a writer of love and drinking songs. After a difficult time of family illness he experienced a religious conversion, and his poetry took a more serious turn. A lawyer by profession, he wrote hymns to express and strengthen his own faith rather than for public use. Some 150 of his hymn texts were published in his Geistliche Lieder. The translation of selected stanzas is by Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194), who published them in her Chorale Book for England (1863). The text is a meditation on the suffering and death of Christ, which brought eternal life to believers (st. 1), provided full atonement for our sin (st. 2), and mortified our "old nature" (st. 3). The tone of unending gratitude to God reflected in the refrain line–"thousand, thousand thanks are due"–runs throughout the entire text. Liturgical Use: Lent, especially Holy Week; any worship service with a thanksgiving focus. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook



The composer of the tune is unknown; it was first published in Das grosse Cantional: oder Kirchen-Gesangbuch (Darmstadt, 1687) to the text "Alle Menschen mussen sterben" by J. G. Albinus; some Baroque organ works are associated with that text. The tune became associated with Homburg's text since the…

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The Cyber Hymnal #900
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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #371
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Instances (1 - 10 of 10)
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Christian Worship #114

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Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #333

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Evangelical Lutheran Worship #339

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Hymns to the Living God #162

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Lift Up Your Hearts #137

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Lutheran Service Book #420

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Lutheran Worship #94

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Moravian Book of Worship #334

Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreAudioPage Scan

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #371


The Cyber Hymnal #900

Include 50 pre-1979 instances
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