Alas, dear Lord, what law then hast Thou broken

Representative Text

1 O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession,
What dark transgression?

2 They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee;
With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee;
They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee;
They crucify Thee.

3 Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish?
It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish;
Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit,
This I do merit.

4 What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him.

5 The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;
The sinful child of man may live in gladness;
Man forfeited his life and is acquitted;
God is committed.

6 There was no spot in me by sin untainted;
Sick with sin’s poison, all my heart had fainted;
My heavy guilt to hell had well-nigh brought me,
Such woe it wrought me.

7 O wondrous love, whose depth no heart hath sounded,
That brought Thee here, by foes and thieves surrounded!
All worldly pleasures, heedless, I was trying
While Thou wert dying.

8 O mighty King, no time can dim Thy glory!
How shall I spread abroad Thy wondrous story?
How shall I find some worthy gifts to proffer?
What dare I offer?

9 For vainly doth our human wisdom ponder—-
Thy woes, Thy mercy, still transcend our wonder.
Oh, how should I do aught that could delight Thee!
Can I requite Thee?

10 Yet unrequited, Lord, I would not leave Thee;
I will renounce whate’er doth vex or grieve Thee
And quench with thoughts of Thee and prayers most lowly
All fires unholy.

11 But since my strength will nevermore suffice me
To crucify desires that still entice me,
To all good deeds, oh, let Thy Spirit win me
And reign within me!

12 I’ll think upon Thy mercy without ceasing,
That earth’s vain joys to me no more be pleasing;
To do Thy will shall be my sole endeavor
Henceforth forever.

13 Whate’er of earthly good this life may grant me.
I’ll risk for Thee; no shame, no cross, shall daunt me.
I shall not fear what man can do to harm me
Nor death alarm me.

14 But worthless is my sacrifice, I own it;
Yet, Lord, for love’s sake Thou wilt not disown it;
Thou wilt accept my gift in Thy great meekness
Nor shame my weakness.

15 And when, dear Lord, before Thy throne in heaven
To me the crown of joy at last is given,
Where sweetest hymns Thy saints forever raise Thee,
I, too, shall praise Thee.


Source: Lutheran Service Book #439

Author: Johann Heermann

Johann Heermann's (b. Raudten, Silesia, Austria, 1585; d. Lissa, Posen [now Poland], 1647) own suffering and family tragedy led him to meditate on Christ's undeserved suffering. The only surviving child of a poor furrier and his wife, Heermann fulfilled his mother's vow at his birth that, if he lived, he would become a pastor. Initially a teacher, Heermann became a minister in the Lutheran Church in Koben in 1611 but had to stop preaching in 1634 due to a severe throat infection. He retired in 1638. Much of his ministry took place during the Thirty Years' War. At times he had to flee for his life and on several occasions lost all his possessions. Although Heermann wrote many of his hymns and poems during these devastating times, his persona… 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: Alas, dear Lord, what law then hast Thou broken
German Title: Herzliebster Jesu
Author: Johann Heermann (1630)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863)
Meter: 11.11.11.5
Source: Devoti Musica Cordis, 1630
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain

Tune

HERZLIEBSTER JESU

Partially based on earlier melodies (including the Genevan tune for Psalm 23), HERZ LIEBSTER JESU was composed by Johann Crüger (PHH 42) and published in his Neues vollkömliches Gesangbuch (1640). Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) used the tune in both his St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, and variou…

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Timeline

Media

The Cyber Hymnal #4772
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
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Instances

Instances (1 - 6 of 6)
TextPage Scan

Christian Worship #117

TextPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #292

TextPage Scan

Lutheran Service Book #439

Text

Lutheran Worship #119

TextPage Scan

Moravian Book of Worship #351

TextScoreAudio

The Cyber Hymnal #4772

Include 13 pre-1979 instances
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