18 April 2009

Ich dank dir, lieber Herre

Here is my translation of the old Reformation-period morning-hymn “Ich dank dir lieber Herre” by Johann Kolross (a.k.a. Rhodanthracius, “Rosycoal”), published (a part) in Musika Deutsch, Nürnberg, 1532. Wackernagel said of this hymn that it contains “All the leading thoughts of the Reformation.” Ludecus (1589) appoints this hymn for Invocavit, Reminiscere, and Oculi. All previous English translations are based on a later, much-altered cento of 6 stanzas. I was unable to salvage much of these earlier translations for sense, poetry, or lucidity. Earlier versions of the Moravian Hymn-Book find this hymn as “Thy Wounds, Lord, be my Safeguard.” Later versions separate stanzas into two hymns “Lord Christ, I give Thee Praises” and “Amidst this world’s profaneness” only. I quote those below for comparison. The appointed melody is the proper “Ich dank dir, lieber Herre,” which English singers will likely know from its use with “Let Me Be Thine Forever” (as well as the English hymn “Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven”).

1. I thank Thee, Lord, for keeping
Thy watch throughout the night
And guarding me while sleeping
In slumber’s fetters tight,
When shadows circled round me,
And in distress I lay,
Thy ramparts did surround me
Until I saw the day!

2. With thanks I bow before Thee
O Thou my God and Lord
And urgently implore Thee:
This day Thy help afford;
O Father, hear my pleading,
Yet, let Thy will be done,
In Thine own way be leading,
My will with Thine be one!

3. From wand’ring, Lord, prevent me,
That I not slip or stray,
Grant not the foe to tempt me
To take the erring way:
I pray Thee, help in shunning,
O Lord, by all Thy grace,
The devil’s snares and cunning
Which wait in every place.

4. With solid faith endue me,
In Jesus Christ to trust;
Forgive my sins, renew me,
For Him declare me just;
This shalt Thou not deny me,
Just as Thy lips did swear,
That Christ from sin would pry me,
And all its burden bear.

5. And with that hope provide me
Which no corruption sees,
Put Christlike love inside me
For all mine enemies,
That I may show compassion,
Nor seek or serve mine own,
But love them in the fashion
That Thou to me hast shown.

6. Thy Word be my confession
Before the world profane,
Nor let me make concession
To fear, might, wealth or gain,
But make me serve Thee ever
In Thy clear truth, my rock,
Nor my connection sever
With Thy true Christian flock.

7. The day grant me to finish
In glory to Thy name,
Nor let my faith diminish,
But Thee till death acclaim,
Uphold my earthly haven
Defend me till I die,
All things Thy hand hath given,—
All in Thy hand doth lie.

8. Lord Christ, I give Thee praises
For all Thy goodness fair,
Which Thou as each day passes
Revealest everywhere;
Thy name, all names exceeding
I’ll praise, for Thou art good,
Thou giv’st Thy flesh for feeding,
Thou bid’st me drink Thy blood.

9. We worship and we bless Thee
We praise Thee, God, alone;
Grant that, as we confess Thee,
Thy blessings to us come;
That we in peace may slumber,
Thy grace upon us pour;
For Satan’s darts in number
Grant faith, Thy weapon sure.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2009.


1. Ich dank dir, lieber Herre,

daß du mich hast bewahrt
in dieser Nacht Gefährde,
darin ich lag so hart

mit Finsternis umfangen;
dazu in großer Not,

daraus ich bin entgangen,
halfst du mir, Herre Gott. 

2. Mit Dank will ich dich loben,

o du mein Gott und Herr
im Himmel hoch dort oben.

Den Tag mir auch gewähr,
worum ich dich tu bitten
und was dein Will mag sein:
Leit mich in deinen Sitten
und brich den Willen mein,

3. daß ich, Herr, nicht abweiche

von deiner rechten Bahn,
der Feind mich nicht erschleiche,
damit ich irr möcht gahn.
Erhalt mich durch dein Güte,

das bitt ich fleißig dich,

vor's Teufels List und Wüthen,

womit er setzt an mich.

4. Den Glauben mir verleihe

an dein' Sohn Jesum Christ;
mein Sünd mir auch verzeihe

allhier zu dieser Frist.

Du wirst mir´s nicht versagen,

wie du verheißen hast,

daß er mein Sünd tut tragen

und löst mich von der Last.

5. Die Hoffnung mir auch gebe,

die nicht verderben läßt,

dazu ein christlich Liebe
zu dem, der mich verletzt,

daß ich ihm Guts erzeige,
such nicht darin das Mein
und lieb ihn als mein eigen
nach all dem Willen dein. 

6. Dein Wort laß mich bekennen

vor dieser argen Welt,

auch mich dein Diener nennen,
nicht fürchten G'walt noch Geld,

das mich bald möcht verleiten

von deiner Wahrheit klar;

wollst mich auch nicht abscheiden
von der christlichen Schar.

7. Laß mich den Tag vollenden

zu Lob dem Namen dein,

von dir mich nicht abwenden,

ans End beständig sein.

Behüt mir Leib und Leben,
dazu die Frücht im Land;

was du mir hast gegeben,

steht alls in deiner Hand.

8. Herr Christ, dir Lob ich sage

um deine Wohltat all,

die du mir all mein Tage

erzeigt hast überall.

Dein' Namen will ich preisen,

der du allein bist gut;

mit deinem Leib mich speise, 

tränk mich mit deinem Blut.

9. Dein ist allein die Ehre,

dein ist allein der Ruhm;

die Rach dir niemand wehre,
dein Segen zu uns komm,

daß wir im Fried entschlafen;

mit Gnaden zu uns eil,

gib uns des Glaubens Waffen
vor's Teufels listig Pfeil.

1. Thy wounds, Lord, be my safeguard,
Where’er my foot shall move:
Last night they from all hazard
Have kept me; in like Love
Grant this day each petition,
If’t with Thy will agree;
My will break, and new-fashion
My manners after Thee

4. That faith in me, O Father,
Confirm t’ward Jesus Christ,
Which trusts grace altogether,
And no works in the least;
Since He for sin did suffer,
Thou wilt me not refuse:
The word divine and proffer
Was, He’d atone for us.

5. With that Hope me replenish
Which lets to death none sink;
Love also, which to minish
Its kindness ne’er does think,
For men’s unjustly hating;
But without narrow views,
To ferye is meditating,
E’en as ourselves, our foes.

6. Amdist this world’s profaneness,
Truth’s confessor make me;
In prim’tive way and plainness
Let me Thy servant be:
Let neither fear nor int’rest
From Thy path make me slip;
Nought rend me from the tend’rest
Conjunction with Thy sheep.

8. Lord Christ! I give Thee praises;
On me Thy benefits
To show’r, as each day passes,
Thy hand ne’er intermits.
Thy name I”ll be extolling,
For Thou alone art good:
With Thy flesh me be filling,
To drink give me Thy blood.

9. All honor in Thee center,
To Thee be paid all praise!
Thy blood doth vengeance hinder,
Blessing to us conveys,
Till we’re in peace departed:
Now, Lord, grace on us pour;
‘Gainst shafts by Satan darted,
Faith’s shield keep us secure.

MORAVIAN HYMN-BOOK (newer, as sep. hymns):
6. Amidst this world’s profaneness
May I Thy truth confess;
In primitive way and plainness,
Thy servant be thro’ grace:
Nor fear, nor interest ever
Cause me to turn aside,
Or my connexion sever
With thy redeemèd bride.

8. Lord Christ, I give Thee praises;
Thy hand ne’er intermits
To shower, as each day passes,
On me Thy benefits:
Thy name, all names exceeding,
I’ll praise, for Thou art good,
Art with Thy flesh me feeding,
To drink giv’st me Thy blood.


Anonymous said...

Where does the music fragment come from? I do not think that it is from Musica Teutsch 1532 which has the melody on the text Entlaubet ist der Walde.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Dear Anonymous,

Well spotted! I believe the musical fragment reproduced on this page comes from the German Lutheran appendix to the Bohemian hymnal Kirchengeseng (1580 ed.). Thanks for your note. If you could provide a reference to the Musica Teutsch melody, you may be assured of the gratitude and obligation of

yours very sincerely,
Matthew Carver

Maarten said...

Dear Matt,

Indeed, your fragment is from the Kirchengeseng 1580. The source is here: https://archive.org/stream/kirchendar00bohe#page/n657/mode/2up.
I also found the Musica Teutsch melody of 1532 for Discant, Tenor, Alt and Bass. However, it is for lute. The link is: http://digital.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/werkansicht/?PPN=PPN772414130&PHYSID=PHYS_0033. Luckily, it is performed by a viol consort at http://youtu.be/mB5t3izUbqY. Listen carefully to the Tenor voice in which you will recognize our melody.
The oldest musical notation of this melody (well, it is hard to recognize) I found in the Lochamer Liederbuch by Conrad Pauman, c.1450 at http://digital.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/werkansicht/?PPN=PPN645230707&PHYSID=PHYS_0020. It is on the secular German text "Der wallt hat sich entlaubet", which can be translated to something like "The leaves in the forest have gone", i.e. winter is coming.

Kind regards,