How can it be, my highest Light!
That as before Thy face so bright
All things must pale and vanish,
That my poor feeble flesh and blood
Can summon a courageous mood
To meet Thee, and fear banish?
But dust and ashes what am I?
My body what but grass so dry?
What good the life I’m living?
What can I with my utmost pow’r?
What have I, Lord! from hour to hour
But what Thyself art giving?
I am a poor and feeble worm,
A straw, the lightest passing storm
Could drive away before it.
When Thou Thy hand, that all doth stay,
Dost on me e’er so lightly lay,
I know not how t’ endure it.
Lord! I am nought, but Thou art He
Who art all—all belongs to Thee,
And live and move I ever
In Thee—if Thou me terrifi’st,
No store of grace to help suppli’st
I can recover never.
I am unjust, but true Thy heart,
I evil am—Thou holy art,
This thought should shame be giving,
That I in such an evil stand,
Should from Thy mild paternal hand,
The least good be receiving.
Nought else but ill from infancy
Up e’en till now I’ve done to Thee,
In sin was I begotten;
And didst Thou not in faithfulness
My sin remit, and me release,
Lost were I and forgotten.
Let boasting then be far from me,
What is Thy due I render Thee,
To Thee alone be glory!
O Christ! may while I live below
My spirit, and what thence may flow,
With reverence adore Thee.
And if aught hath been done by me
That is well done, it came from Thee,
My pow’r could do it never.
Thee thanks and honour, Lord! I bring,
All my life long Thy praise I’ll sing,
And tell Thy glory ever.
Paul Gerhardt (b. Gräfenheinichen, Saxony, Germany, 1607; d. Lubben, Germany, 1676), famous author of Lutheran evangelical hymns, studied theology and hymnody at the University of Wittenberg and then was a tutor in Berlin, where he became friends with Johann Crüger. He served the Lutheran parish of Mittenwalde near Berlin (1651-1657) and the great St. Nicholas' Church in Berlin (1657-1666). Friederich William, the Calvinist elector, had issued an edict that forbade the various Protestant groups to fight each other. Although Gerhardt did not want strife between the churches, he refused to comply with the edict because he thought it opposed the Lutheran "Formula of Concord," which condemned some Calvinist doctrines. Consequently, he was r… Go to person page >
Translator: J. Kelly
Kelly, John, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, educated at Glasgow University, studied theology at Bonn, New College, Edinburgh, and the Theological College of the English Presbyterian Church (to which body he belongs) in London. He has ministered to congregations at Hebburn-on-Tyne and Streatham, and was Tract Editor of the Religious Tract Society. His translations of Paul Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs were published in 1867. Every piece is given in full, and rendered in the metre of the originals. His Hymns of the Present Century from the German were published in 1886 by the Religious Tract Society. In these translations the metres of the originals have not always been followed, whilst some of the hymns have been abridged and others condens… Go to person page >