07 May 2009

Hilf Gott, wie ist der Menschen Noth

Here is my translation of the old hymn "Hilf Gott, wie ist der Menschen Noth" (P. Speratus, 1524). This lesser known hymn is somewhat complex in structure in comparison with hymns of the latter centuries. It boasts of two internal rhymes in lines 1 and 3 which all match, making a sum of four syllables sharing the same rhyme, (stanza 1: God - broad; body - flawed) besides the end rhymes (grim - dim). It is essentially a paraphrase of Psalm 2, with much the same spirit as Luther's paraphrase of Psalm 46. It is especially fit for Reminiscere. Ludecus appoints it for Septuagesima, Invocavit, Reminiscere, Oculi, Lætare, and Trinity XX. The melody is the proper as found in Babst (1545) and Layriz' Kern... (Thanks to Sean Daenzer).

Another melody, here as it is given in the Nurnberg hymnal (1580):
1. Oh, God, man’s ruin is so broad and grim!
Who can its limits measure?
His body dead, his thinking flawed and dim;
His ignorance his pleasure.
His heart and mind / Are bound and blind,
His members all infected,
And ever misdirected;
No good he knows, / Much less he does,
As God commands; / Stiff-necked, he stands
Fighting God’s good pleasure blindly:
O Lord and God, from this sorrow save us kindly!

2. No rest he finds on earth; this quest of his
Can garner no salvation.
Oppressed by sin’s great weight, hell’s guest he is;
God, end his tribulation!
We all cry out / In pain and doubt
To Thee of greatest merit,
Thou canst lift up our spirit
And grant Thy grace, / Ere death we face—
Our common fate, / Then ’tis too late,
Thy good favor for to cherish;
O Lord and God, do not leave us thus to perish.

3. Oh how irate Thou wast, Thy brow, how dark,
When here Thy Word lay hidden!
Yet now will men not heed, avow or mark
Thy voice as Thou hast bidden,—
But fling it back! / Though churches lack
Not ears enough to hear it:
Thy plaint is that none fear it:
Far better ‘twere / If none did hear,
Than that they heard / And spurned the Word:
Oh what bitter castigation!
O Lord and God, make in us Thy new creation.

4. Oh shun us not, but through Thy Son grant grace,
On Whom Thy pleasure stayeth,—
The One who righteously hath run our race,
Who all our debt repayeth:
That we, set free / From misery,
And sprinkled by our Savior,
May ever find Thy favor:
Let anger go, / To judge be slow;
Our guilt efface, / And grant us grace:
We confess our errors! Take us,
O Lord and God, and Thy very children make us.

5. Because Thou hast with scarce a pause restored
Thy word to earth, to bless us,
Heal us anew whom Satan’s jaws have gored,
And of Thy love possess us;
All hangs on Thee, / This much we see;
Our own attempts are futile:
Thy wrath on us were brutal.
Behold us not, / Nor what we’ve wrought,
But in their place / Thy Word of grace:
Therefore He in flesh did hail us;
O Lord and God, let His saving death avail us.

6. O ye, His people, joyful be, and know
Ye are not thrust from heaven.
But see that ye not wantonly forego
This treasure He hath given.
It is His Word: / There stand assured;
This naught shall ever alter,
His might and wealth ne’er falter:
Who hath but Him / Shall all be giv’n ;
Do thou but trust, / Leave doubt in dust,
Hope in Him who rules the ages,
O Lord and God, ever let us sing Thy praises!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2009.

1. Hilf Gott, wie ist der Menschen Noth so groß:
wer kann es alls erzählen!
Ganz todt liegt er, ohn allen Rath, weislos;
er kennt auch nicht sein Elend.
Herz, Muth und Sinn / ist gar dahin,
verderbt mit allen Kräften,
weiß nicht, wo ers soll heften;
kennt nicht das Gut, / noch minder thut,
was Gott gefällt / hat sich gestellt
wider allen Gottes Willen:
o Herre Gott, hilf uns diesen jammer stillen.

2. Nicht Rast findt er auf Erd; wie fast er sucht,
kein Macht will ihn doch retten.
Sein Last ihn als der Höllen Gast verflucht
ach Gott, hilf ihm aus Nöthen!
Wir rufen all aus diesem Qual
zu dir dem höchsten Gute:
du kannst uns geben Muthe
zu deiner Gnad, eh kommt der Tod,
der alls hin nimmt; da nicht mehr ziemt,
deiner Gnaden Huld erwerben.
o Herre Gott, laß uns nicht alsó verderben.

3. Ach, wie war nun dein Zoren hie so grimm,
da dein Wort lagn verborgen!
Nun sie wieder geben zu früh ihr Stimm;
denn niemand will ihr sorgen!* (achten)
man hört sie wohl, die Kirch ist voll;
noch wil sich niemand maßen:
der Zorn ist noch so große!
Viel besser wär gehört nimmer,
denn so man hört und nicht nach fährt:
ach, es ist ein grausam Strafe!
O Herre Gott, mach uns wieder neu erschaffen.

4. Sieh nun durch deinen lieben Sohn auf uns,
in dem dein Wohlgefallen;
der schon für uns hat gnug gethan, umsonst,
hat reichlich wollen zahlen,
daß wir gefreit von allem Leid
deinr Gnaden möchten gnießen;
sein Blut sollt uns entsprießen.
Laß Zoren nach, richt nicht so jach;* (schnell)
vergiß der Schuld, gieb uns dein Huld:
wir erkennen doch die Sünde.
O Herre Gott, nimm uns an für deine Kinder.

5. Dieweil du hast so kurzer Eil dein Wort
wieder gesandt auf Erden:
uns heil, von neu durchs Teufels Pfeil ermordt;
gieb, daß wir frömmer werden.
Es liegt an dir, das kennen wir;
mit uns ists gar verloren:
wir stehn in deinem Zoren.
Nicht sieh uns an, noch unser Thun;
sieh an dein Wort der Gnaden Hort:
darum ist es Mensch geworden.
O Herre Gott, für uns laß es sein gestorben.

6. Freu dich mit großer Zuversicht, sein Volk:
er wird dich nicht verschmähen.
Nur sieh, wie du nicht gar vernichten sollt
den Schatz, den er hat geben.
Es ist sein Wort: darauf steh hart;
es mag uns nicht ausweichen,
sein Kraft ist also reiche:
wem ers beschert, da wirds gemehrt;
nur glaub daran, laß Zweifel stan,
hoff in den, der ist dort oben.
O Herre Gott, von uns sei dir ewig Lobe!

JOHN WEDDERBURN’s “Translation” (Really just a translation of Psalm 2; Normalized spelling):
1. What is the cause, O God omnipotent,
That all nations commoved are so sore?
The kings and the people with one consent,
Resist Thee, Thy power and Thy glory. (gloire)
That strive again Thy law aye more and more,
And contrare Christ Thy Son whom Thou hast sent
To save all men that will on Him depend.

2. They will not be reformed from their sin,
But will remain blinded in ignorance,
And will not thole to lock Thy law within,
But cast it away with great grievance:
Thy counsel they refuse and governance,
And following their own heart’s conceit,
Every man draws a sundry gate.

3. But Thou, O God, in heaven into Thy ring,
Thou makest all their counsels every one,
What they intend, that shall they never bring
To final end; for Thy wisdom alone
Their pregnant wits shall scorn, and anon,
In Thy great ire, Thou shalt them sore reprove,
And from Thy face Thou shalt them quite remove.

4. For God hath set a captain stark and wight,
Christ His own Son, God and man natural,
On Mount Zion to rule it just and right,
That is to say, His Church universal,
To teach His Father’s Word celestial:
His godly will and pleasure for to show,
Instructing all the world into His law.

5. God said to Him, “Thou art my Son and heir,
I Thee begat, forever and this day,
Thy death purchased victory preclair,
Since from the dead Thou ris’t, to ring for aye,
My chosen in Thee shall not come to decay,
Who truly trusts in Thy godly name,
Shall never die eternally I plane.

6. My Son, I will Thee give all nations
In heritage, and put them in Thy cure: (care)
To rule them with Thy ministrations,
And prove them with the Cross at Thy pleasure,
To purge their fleshly lust, and make them pure,
And for to raise their minds spiritual,
To praise Thy name now and perpetual.

7. Herefore Kings and Rulers now beware,
Advert till God’s Word and discipline.
Receive His Son, above all things prefer
His godly Word, and keep well His doctrine:
Learn Him to dread, and trust in till Him sine,
Which is the true worship and righteousness,
That God requires of mankind more and less.

8. Receive therefore His sweet correction,
That He no more with you offended be;
Before your eyes with true affection,
And in your heart ye have Him idently.
Obey His law, for when grieved is He,
Then who dare His just judgment abide
Blessed are they, which on Him do confide.

No comments: