Many a gift did Christ impart,
Noblest of them all is Love,
Love, a balm within the heart
That can all its pains remove;
Love, a star most bright and pure;
Love, a gem of priceless worth,
Richer than man knows on earth;
Love, like beauty, strong to lure;
Love, like joy, makes man her thrall,
Strong to please and conquer all.
Love can give us all things; here
Use and beauty cannot sever;
Love can raise us to that sphere
Whence the soul tends heavenwards ever;
Though one speak with angel tongues
Bravest words of strength and fire,
If no love his heart inspire,
They are but as fleeting songs;
All his eloquence shall pass,
As the noise of sounding brass.
Science with her keen-eyed glance,
All the wisdom of the world,
Mysteries that the soul entrance,
Faith that mighty hills had hurled
From their ancient seats;--all this,
Wherein man takes most his pride,
Valueless is cast aside,
If the spirit there we miss,
That can work from love alone,
Not from pride in what is known.
Though I lavished all I have
On the poor in charity;
Though I shrank not from the grave,
Or unmoved the stake could see;
Though my body here were given
To the all-consuming flame;
If my mind were still the same,
Meeter were I not for heaven,
Till by Love my works were crowned,
Till in Love my strength were found.
Faith must conquer, Hope must bloom,
As our onward path we wend,
Else we came not through the gloom,
But with earth they also end:
Thou, O Love, doth stretch afar
Through the wide eternity,
And the soul arrayed in Thee
Shines for ever as a star.
Faith and hope must pass away,
Thou, O Love, endurest aye.
Come, thou Spirit of pure Love,
Who dost forth from God proceed,
Never from my heart remove,
Let me all Thy impulse heed;
All that seeks self-profit first,
Rather than another's good,
Whether foe or linked in blood,
Let me hold such thought accurst;
And my heart henceforward be
Ruled, inspired, O Love, by thee!
Lange, Ernst, was born at Danzig, Jan. 3, 1650, where his father, Matthias Lange, was in the service of the Senate. He was for some time secretary in Danzig, and thereafter in Warsaw. In 1691 he was appointed judge in the Altstadt of Danzig, and in 1694 senator. He died at Danzig, Aug. 20, 1727 (Bode, p. 103; Allegemeine Deutsche Biographie, xvii. 623, &c). After a visit to the Netherlands in 1698, Lange allied himself with the Mennonites and Pietists in Danzig, and came into conflict with the Lutheran clergy. His hymns were mostly written about the time when the pestilence visited Danzig, in 1710, and principally appeared in his LXI. Gott geheiligte Stunden, without place or date of publication., but probably at Danzig, 1711 (Preface dated… Go to person page >
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 >