Thou art but Man!

Thou art but man, to thee 'tis known

Author: Paul Gerhardt; Translator: J. Kelly (1867)
Published in 1 hymnal

Full Text

Thou art but man, to thee ’tis known,
Why dost thou then endeavour
To do what God should do alone,
Or can accomplish ever?
A thousand griefs thou goest through,
In spite of all thy wit can do;
Upon thine end thou pond’rest,
What it will be thou wond’rest.

’Tis all in vain, in vain thy care,
With all thy musings earnest,
In all thy life a single hair
Thou white or black ne’er turnest.
The griefs by which thou’rt sore distress’d
Can only serve to mar thy rest,
Cause anguish unavailing,
Thy life itself curtailing.

Wilt thou do what is for thy good,
And what thy God good seeth?
Then cast on Him each heavy load,
’Fore whom earth and heav’n fleeth.
Thy life and labour, all that’s thine,
With joy into God’s hand resign;
A happy end He’ll ever
Give thee, and thee deliver.

Who car’d for thee ere light of day
Had dawn’d upon thy vision,
While in the womb thy soul still lay
As in a gloomy prison?
Who thought upon thy welfare then?
What good did all the might of men
Do, when to thee were given
Life, mind, and pow’r from heaven?

Whose skill was it that fashion’d thee?
And who thy frame uprearèd?
To glad our eyes, by whose decree,
Say, hath the light appearèd?
Who hath thy veins in order laid,
For each a course convenient made?
Who hath thy frame replenish’d
With members fair and finish’d?

Where were thy mind and will and heart
When land and ocean over,
Yea, even earth’s remotest part,
The sky was spread to cover?
Who made the sun and moon to shine,
Who gave herbs, trees, and beasts as thine,
Who bid them satisfy thee,
And no desire deny thee?

Lift up thy head, see everywhere,
Above, around, below thee,
How God in all for thee His care,
And at all times, doth show thee!
Thy meat and drink, the clothes dost wear,
Did God, ere need thou felt’st, prepare.
God, ere thou wast, prepar’d thee
Thy mother’s milk, that rear’d thee.

The raiment that in infancy
Thy nakedness did cover,
The cradle that receivèd thee,
The roof thy young head over,
Were all in love prepar’d for thee,
Ere yet thine eye was op’d to see
The wonders that abounded,
The world that thee surrounded.

Yet wilt thou walk by thine own light
Thy life long, only heeding,
Believing nothing but thy sight,
Go whither it is leading.
In all that thou dost undertake,
Thy heart thy counsellor dost make,
Unless by it selected,
Is ev’ry plan rejected.

Behold! how oft and openly
God’s providence undoeth
The plans thy hand so ardently
And hopefully pursueth.
But it doth happen frequently,
That e’en the very things we see
The wisest men could never
Predict, or think of ever.

How oft thy stiff-neck’d self-will hath
To bitter need reduc’d thee!
When heart and mind deluded, death
To take for life, seduc’d thee!
And had the Lord thy work and deed
Along the path allow’d proceed
That thou thyself had’st taken,
Lost wert thou and forsaken.

He who to us love endless feels,
When self-involv’d, then frees us,
Ev’n self-inflicted wounds He heals,
Guides when astray He sees us.
Paternal kindness, tender love,
To these His heart doth ever move,
This love poor sinners beareth,
For whom as sons He careth.

Ah! silence doth He often keep,
But still the while He blesses,
E’en though we tears of anguish weep,
Though grief the heart depresses,
Although our eager eyes we strain,
And seek for light, but seek in vain,
And seek deliv’rance ever
From woe, but find it never.

But God our Lord still onward straight
His path pursueth ever,
And brings us to heav’n’s peaceful gate,
Where storms assail us never.
What dark was and mysterious here
In all God’s ways, shall be then clear,
His wisdom we’ll discover
When our life-work is over.

Then peace, be still, my troubled breast!
And let no grief distress thee,
God ever plans for thee the best,
His heart is set to bless thee.
Thy cause the Saviour ne’er can leave,
In this assuredly believe,
Tow’rd us He ever yearneth,
His ardent love aye burneth.

With grace and truth His loving heart
For evermore is glowing,
And keenly feeleth He the smart,
When from our eyes are flowing
Hot tears, caus’d by vain sorrow’s load,
As if in wrath and hate our God
Could ever helpless leave us,
Would never comfort give us!

The evil thought, ah! put away,
No more may it deceive thee,
Although what happ’neth, seldom may
Increase of pleasure give thee.
But that will happen certainly
Which God thy Father doth decree;
From what He wills to send thee,
No mortal can defend thee.

Then to thy Father’s arms of love
In confidence betake thee,
Pray on till His compassion move,
His special care He make thee!
Then by His Spirit will He guide,
Through unknown paths still at thy side,
From all thy woe and striving
At last deliv’rance giving.

Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs, 1867

Author: Paul Gerhardt

Gerhardt, Paulus, son of Christian Gerhardt, burgomaster of Gräfenhaynichen, near Wittenberg, was born at Grafenhaynichen, Mar. 12, 1607. On January 2, 1628, he matriculated at the University of Wittenberg. In the registers of St. Mary's church, Wittenberg, his name appears as a godfather, on July 13, 1641, described still as "studiosus," and he seems to have remained in Wittenberg till at least the end of April, 1642. He appears to have gone to Berlin in 1642 or 1643, and was there for some time (certainly after 1648) a tutor in the house of the advocate Andreas Barthold, whose daughter (Anna Maria, b. May 19, 1622, d. March 5, 1668) became his wife in 1655. During this period he seems to have frequently preached in Berlin. He was appoint… 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: Thou art but man, to thee 'tis known
Title: Thou art but Man!
German Title: Du bist ein Mensch, das weiszt du wol
Translator: J. Kelly (1867)
Author: Paul Gerhardt
Meter: 8.7.8.7.8.8.7.7
Language: English
Publication Date: 1867
Copyright: This text in in the public domain in the United States because it was published before 1923.



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