O God! who dost Heav’n’s sceptre wield
What is it that now makes our field,
And everything that it doth bear,
Such sad and ruin’d aspect wear?
Nought else, in truth, but that the band
Of men from Thee on every hand
Have fallen utterly away,
Their guilt increasing every day.
They who as God’s own property
His name should praise continually,
And of God’s word should love the light,
Like heathen are involv’d in night.
The Heav’ns are all with darkness clad,
The firmament’s clear light doth fade;
We wait to see the light again
At dawn of day, but wait in vain.
In ceaseless strifes involv’d men are,
In every place is fearful war,
In every corner hate and spite,
Contentions every class delight.
The elements o’er all the land
Are stretching out ’gainst us the hand,
And troubles from the sea arise,
And troubles come down from the skies.
It is a time of anguish sore,
For hunted, plagued their time before
The people are into the grave,
No rest to them do they vouchsafe.
The source of joy becometh sad,
The sun hath ceas’d to make us glad,
And all at once the clouds descend,
Shed tears that never seem to end.
Ah, child of man! go weep alone,
Thy many grievous sins bemoan,
Henceforward from thy crimes refrain,
Repent, and be thou clean again.
Fall on thy knees, thyself now throw
On God, that He may mercy show,
That His deservèd wrath may be
By Him to grace turn’d speedily.
He’s faithful, and aye true will be,
Nought else desireth but that we
With reverence and godly fear
To seek His mercy should draw near.
Ah! Father, Father, hear our cry,
Redeem us, ’neath sin’s yoke we lie,
From out the world drawn may we be,
And Thou Thyself turn us to Thee.
Subdue Thou our rebellious mood,
And make us, sinners, pure and good;
Whom Thou dost turn, soon turn’d is he,
Who heareth Thee, is heard by Thee!
And let Thine eye now friendly be,
The anguish’d cry that reacheth Thee
From earth, from our sad hearts, O Lord,
With gracious ear do Thou regard.
Wrath’s black robe tear off with Thy hand
And comfort Thou us and our land,
And may the genial sun shine forth
And ripen the fair fruits of earth.
And, Lord, as long as we may live
Our daily bread in bounty give,
And when the end of time we see
The bread give of eternity!
Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs, 1867