Dear Soul, couldst thou become a child

Representative Text

Dear Soul, couldst thou become a child
While yet on earth, meek, undefiled,
Then God Himself were ever near,
And Paradise around thee here.

A child cares nought for gold or treasure,
Nor fame nor glory yield him pleasure;
In perfect trust, he asketh not
If rich or poor shall be his lot.

Little he recks of dignity,
Nor prince nor monarch feareth he;
Strange that a child so weak and small
Is oft the boldest of us all!

He hath not skill to utter lies,
His very soul is in his eyes;
Single his aim in all, and true,
And apt to praise what others do.

No questions dark his spirit vex,
No faithless doubts his soul perplex,
Simply from day to day he lives,
Content with that the present gives.

Scarce can he stand alone, far less
Would roam abroad in loneliness;
Fast clinging to his mother still,
She bears and leads him at her will.

He will not stay to pause and choose,
His father's guidance e'er refuse,
Thinks not of danger, fears no harm,
Wrapt in obedience' holy calm.

For strange concerns he careth nought;
What others do, although were wrought
Before his eyes the worst offence,
Stains not his tranquil innocence.

His dearest work, his best delight,
Is, lying in his mother's sight,
To gaze for ever on her face,
And nestle in her fond embrace.

O childhood's innocence! the voice
Of thy deep wisdom is my choice!
Who hath thy lore is truly wise,
And precious in our Father's eyes.

Spirit of childhood! loved of God,
By Jesu's Spirit now bestowed!
How often have I longed for thee;
O Jesus, form Thyself in me!

And help me to become a child
While yet on earth, meek, undefiled,
That I may find God always near,
And Paradise around me here.


Source: Lyra Germanica: The Christian Year #9

Author: Gerhard Tersteegen

Tersteegen, Gerhard, a pious and useful mystic of the eighteenth century, was born at Mörs, Germany, November 25, 1697. He was carefully educated in his childhood, and then apprenticed (1715) to his older brother, a shopkeeper. He was religiously inclined from his youth, and upon coming of age he secured a humble cottage near Mühlheim, where he led a life of seclusion and self-denial for many years. At about thirty years of age he began to exhort and preach in private and public gatherings. His influence became very great, such was his reputation for piety and his success in talking, preaching, and writing concerning spiritual religion. He wrote one hundred and eleven hymns, most of which appeared in his Spiritual Flower Garden (1731). He… 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: Dear Soul, couldst thou become a child
German Title: O Liebe Seele, könntst du werden
Author: Gerhard Tersteegen (1731)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1855)
Meter: 8.8.8.8
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain

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Hymns of the Ages #d21

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Lyra Germanica #19

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Lyra Germanica #9

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