Of Death and Dying

Representative Text

Lord God! Thou art for evermore
Thy people’s habitation,
And Thou existence hadst before
Was laid the earth’s foundation!
Ere yet the hills began to be
Thou lived’st in eternity,
Of all things the beginning!

Thou lettest all the crowds of men
Through death’s dark portals wander,
And biddest them return again,
Those others follow yonder.
With Thee a thousand years are aye
Like watch of night or yesterday
When it is gone for ever.

Thou lettest the base hosts of men
E’en as a stream be flowing,
And as a ship upon the main
That fav’ring winds are blowing,
And as a sleep and dream of night
That when men wake at morning light
They can no more remember.

We’re like an herb that early dies,
Or grass in fields that groweth,
That in the morning flourishes,
Ere night the mower moweth.
So is’t with man: he blooms to-day,
To-morrow he is borne away
If but a breath doth touch him!

Because Thy wrath ’gainst us doth glow,
Lord! we so early vanish,
And for our sins Thou lay’st us low,
And from Thy face dost banish.
Our sins Thou sett’st before Thine eyes,
Then doth Thine indignation rise
In Thine heart ever holy!

This fire it is consumes in all
Our bones the marrow ever;
And hence it is that great or small
From death escapeth never.
And hence our days are passing o’er
Like tales that oft beguile an hour
And that are soon forgotten.

And scarcely doth our life on earth
To seventy years last even;
And what are all our labours worth
If four-score years be given.
What is the sum of all our gain
From youth to age, but toil and pain,
Heart-sorrow and vexation?

We’re ever toiling full of care,
And ere we do bethink us
To stop our work, lo! death is there,
Into the grave to sink us.
And speedily we pass away,
Yet of their end none ever stay
To think, nor of God’s anger.

O teach us, Lord! to think each day
Upon this earth’s affliction,
That when we think on death we may
Grow wiser by reflection.
Ah! turn on us again Thy face
And be at peace, O God of grace!
With Thy rebellious children.

And early with Thy mercy free
Be soul and body filling,
And late and early, Lord, may we
Thy glorious praise be telling.
O chiefest joy! our hearts now cheer,
And once more give us good times here,
The days have been so evil.

We’ve borne the cross these weary years,
Now let Thy sun be shining,
Vouchsafe us laughter after tears,
And pleasure after pining.
And evermore, O Lord! make known
Thy works of wonder to Thine own,
Thine honour to Thy children.

Be Thou our faithful friend and God,
Establish us for ever!
And when we err from wisdom’s road
Give penitence and favour!
Turn Thou our hearts again to Thee,
May all our works establish’d be,
Crown all we do with blessing!

Source: Paul Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs #68

Author: Paul Gerhardt

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 >

Text Information

First Line: Lord God! Thou art for evermore
Title: Of Death and Dying
German Title: Herr Gott, du bist ja fuer und fuer
Author: Paul Gerhardt
Translator: J. Kelly (1867)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


The Cyber Hymnal #15345
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The Cyber Hymnal #15345

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