Another Testimony from Paul Gerhardt

The LSB has many of Gerhardt’s hymns. Here is one which was not entirely included. It is worth using as a meditation in these last weeks of Lent. The best translation I could find is by Catherine Winkworth. I especially like the imagery of death as a monster. Christ leaps into the jaws of the monster to save us. That is powerful stuff! Knowing what Gerhardt went through, this hymn is a testimony to faith. The LSB version is number 453. The meter of the translation by Winkworth is slightly changed. It will work with the wonderful melody of LSB 683 (Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me).

Oh, world! behold upon the tree
Thy Life is hanging now for thee,
Thy Saviour yields His dying breath;
The mighty Prince of glory now
For thee doth unresisting bow
To cruel stripes, to scorn and death.

Draw near, O world, and mark Him well;
Behold the drops of blood that tell
How sore His conflict with the foe:
And hark! how from that noble heart,
Sigh after sigh doth slowly start
From depths of yet unfathom’d woe.

Alas! my Saviour, who could dare
Bid Thee such bitter anguish bear,
What evil heart entreat Thee thus?
For Thou art good, hast wronged none,
As we and ours too oft have done,
Thou hast not sinn’d, dear Lord, like us.

I and my sins, that number more
Than yonder sands upon the shore,
Have brought to pass this agony;
‘Tis I have caused the floods of woe
That now Thy dying soul o’erflow,
And those sad hearts that watch by Thee.

‘Tis I to whom these pains belong,
‘Tis I should suffer for my wrong,
Bound hand and foot in heavy chains;
The scourge, the fetters, whatsoe’er
Thou bearest, ’tis my soul should bear,
For she hath well deserved such pains.

Yet Thou dost even for my sake
On Thee in love the burdens take
That weigh’d my spirit to the ground:
Yes, Thou art made a curse for me,
That I might yet be blest through Thee;
My healing in Thy wounds is found.

To save me from the monster’s power,
From Death that all things would devour,
Thyself into his jaws dost leap;
My death Thou takest thus away,
And buriest in Thy grave for aye,
O love most strangely true and deep!

From henceforth there is nought of mine
But I would seek to make it Thine,
Since all myself to Thee I owe.
Whate’er my utmost powers can do,
To Thee to render service true,
Here at Thy feet I lay it low.

Ah! little have I, Lord, to give,
So poor, so base the life I live,
But yet, till soul and body part,
This one thing I will do for Thee–
The woe, the death endured for me,
I’ll cherish in my inmost heart.

Thy cross shall be before my sight,
My hope, my joy, by day and night,
Whate’er I do, where’er I rove;
And, gazing, I will gather thence
The form of spotless innocence,
The seal of faultless truth and love.

And from Thy sorrows will I learn
How fiercely doth God’s anger burn,
How terribly His thunders roll,
How sorely this our loving God
Can smite with His avenging rod,
How deep His floods o’erwhelm the soul.

And I will study to adorn
My heart with meekness under scorn,
With gentle patience in distress,
With faithful love, that yearning cleaves
To those o’er whom to death it grieves,
Whose sins its very soul oppress.

When evil tongues with stinging blame
Would cast dishonour on my name,
I’ll curb the passions that upstart;
And take injustice patiently,
And pardon, as Thou pardon’st me,
With an ungrudging generous heart.

And I will nail me to Thy cross,
And learn to count all things but dross
Wherein the flesh doth pleasure take;
Whate’er is hateful in Thine eyes,
With all the strength that in me lies,
Will I cast from me and forsake.

Thy heavy groans, Thy bitter sighs,
The tears that from Thy dying eyes
Were shed when Thou wast sore oppress’d,
Shall be with me, when at the last
Myself on Thee I wholly cast,
And enter with Thee into rest.

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