Scarce tongue can speak, never human ken

Representative Text

Scarce tongue can speak, ne’er human ken
The myst’ry could discover,
That God, from His high throne to men
Makes known the world all over:
That He alone is King above
All other gods whatever,
Great, mighty, faithful, full of love,
His saints doth aye deliver,
One substance but three persons!

God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
The name thrice holy given,
On earth by all the ransom’d host,
And by the hosts of heaven.
He’s Abraham’s and Isaac’s God,
And Jacob’s whom He knoweth,
The Lord of Hosts, who every good
Both night and day bestoweth,
Who only doeth wonders!

His Son, from all eternity
Begotten hath the Father,
Who came as man, when God’s decree
Had fix’d, His sheep to gather.
The Holy Ghost eternally,
While all Their glory sharing,
Their honour, pow’r, and majesty,
A crown all equal wearing,
Proceeds from Son and Father!

Be glad, my heart! thy portion see,
Thy rich unequall’d treasure,
He is thy Friend, supply will He
Thy needs with bounteous measure.
Who made thee in His image fair
Thy load of guilt removeth,
Gives thee His chosen’s faith to share,
Thy Joy in sorrow proveth,
Through His own word most holy.

Bestir thyself, with all thy heart
Thy God to know endeavour:
Sweet rest such knowledge will impart,
Thy soul with pure love ever
Will cause to glow, and nourish thee
For life and joy in heaven;
Things heard of only here, shall be
To open sight there given,
By God to His dear children.

Woe! woe! to the besotted crew
In wilful blindness living,
Rejecting God, the honour due
To Him, to creatures giving.
The time will come when close shall He
’Gainst them the door of heaven;
Who God drive from them here, shall be
By Him hereafter driven,
From His high throne most holy!

O Prince of might! Thy mercy show,
Thou God of earth and heaven,
To every sinner here below
May saving grace be given!
Bring back Thy sheep who go astray,
And blinded eyes enlighten,
And turn Thou every thing away
That wickedly might frighten
Thine own, whose faith is feeble.

Grant this, that we Thy people may
All reach the heav’nly portals,
And in Thy kingdom sing for aye,
’Mid all the bless’d immortals:
That Thou above art King alone
All other gods high over,
The Father, Son, and Spirit, One,
Thy people’s Shield and Cover,
One substance but three persons!

Paul Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs, 1867

Translator: John 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 >

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 >

Text Information

First Line: Scarce tongue can speak, never human ken
Original Language: German
Author: Paul Gerhardt
Translator: John Kelly
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain



Instances (1 - 4 of 4)
TextPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal #111

TextPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran hymnal #111

TextPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal. 9th ed. #a111


Paul Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs #1

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us