25 April 2010

O starker Gott, Herre Zebaoth

Here is my translation of “O starker Gott, Herre Zebaoth” which I dedicate to Brian Westgate on his birthday, with many thanks to Ben Hart for obtaining the melody and text. Perhaps written by Musculus in Low German in the 1540s (when it was published on a broadsheet as "Ein Lobgesang der Altväter"), this High German version appeared by 1550 and continued in several hymnals up through the early 17th century. Some suggest because of the rough, archaic wording of the German, that it may have originated as a late medieval or pre-Reformation Christian folksong. Its intent is to show that all the Biblical heroes and heroines of the Old and New Testaments had faith in God and the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ (who gets a stanza, too), and otherwise attempts only a very cursory account of their stories.

The melody is proper, based on the "second verse" of the Latin hymn "Rex sanctorum angelorum," probably suggested because of its sanctoral litany. Here the litany is corrected and changed into a history of the Biblical saints: patriarchs, prophets and apostles, etc., or as it was once called, "the Bible in 35 stanzas." Here is the Latin melody; the second and third rows form the basis of our present melody.

Here is the melody as recorded by Praetorius (ed. Friedrich Blume).
Here is the 4-part melody in midi format.

MIGHTY GOD, Father, Lord of Hosts on high,
Strong Defender! To Thee we cry
King of our nation,
And of all creation
Lord of great and small,
Of heav’n, and earth, and all:
Oh, grant us all that we may find salvation.

2. All who want wisdom, and would fain discern
What is truth, repent ye, and turn
To God your Maker,
Scripture not forsaking,
O’er your sins now grieve,
With humble faith receive
The Word of God, all trust upon it staking.

3. When for sin, ADAM Eden’s Garden left,
Of true faith he was not bereft,
His trust not broken
in God’s promise spoken:
From the woman’s seed
A Man shall come indeed,
And many an age will long to see this token.

4. Adam’s son, ABEL, this same truth confessed,
In true faith he gave God his best,
And praised no other,
Therefore, Cain, his brother,
Was enraged with spite,
And envied Abel quite:
Foul murder wrought, and Abel’s life did smother.

5. NOAH had warning of God’s wrath and flood,
And he made a great ark of wood;
Faithful, devoted,
For a year he floated,
Through the wind and rain,
Thus eight did life retain,
With all the beasts which God to him allotted.

6. ABRAHAM trusted in God’s holy Word;
More than his dear home, he preferred
Strange habitations,
Where, by intimations,
God swore in that place,
The Savior would by grace
Descend from him to bless the sinful nations.

7. Abr’ham’s wife SARAH barren was for long
Yet her faith was constant and strong,
In God’s apprising:
“Lo, by God’s devising
You shall soon conceive,
This cov’nant to believe,
And shall bring forth a son, and call him Isaac.”

8. So was their ISAAC in the Spirit firm,
He believed, and never did squirm,
Of death unfearing,
Abraham revering,
Who gave up his son.
But as the knife was drawn,
God said, “Wait, thou hast shown Me thine adhering.”

9. JACOB, born second, still the blessing sought
And the birthright from Isaac got,
Blest by his father;
He escaped his brother,
From his home he went
In faith where’er God sent,
Who brought him safe to kinsmen of his mother.

10. JOSEPH was faithful, and endured his cross,
As his brothers him did oppose.
And sore misused him
In a pit they threw him,
Grieved his father good,
They stained his coat with blood,
For thirty silver coins a slave they sold him.

11. Righteous LOT trusted in the Lord his God,
Warning to the five kings he brought:
“Love God and fear Him.”
But when none would hear him,
God his life did save,
Escape from fire he gave.
Lot ran to safety with two daughters near him.

12. MOSES was beckoned into Egypt land
by the Lord and brought by His hand,
His flock to sunder;
And with many a wonder,
Brought the children out,
Through waters, dry of foot.
While Pharaoh’s forces all were swallowed under.

13. AARON was chosen and ordained high priest,
God arrayed him to keep the feast,
With every splendor ,
The true faith’s defender.
God He glorified,
His calling was his pride:
Before the Lord, His people’s mediator.

14. JOSHUA, faithful, CALEB at his side,
As God bade them, Canaan they spied,
Patiently waited,
With faith unabated;
Others feared to go
But these two feared no foe,
And captured Canaan by God’s dominating.

15. GIDEON, mighty, battle’s glories knew,
Many a king and heathen he slew,
All foes he conquered,
In their countries entered,
City walls he broke,
And all their goods he took,
All things according to God’s will he ventured.

16. To old ELIJAH all the world did wrong,
Persecuted and plagued him long,
Sorely complaining,
So a drought sustaining,
For three years and more,
He caused no rain to pour;
He prayed again and heav’n resumed its raining.

17. Woe did ISAIAH suffer in his day,
For the truth he met with dismay,
By men rejected.
He the just protected,
Whom men counted last.
False idols he unmasked,
And so they slew him as their hearts directed.

18. When JEREMIAH saw the great disgrace
Which the Jews did in every place,
It so appalled him
That he boldly told them
“God ye sore offend!
His warning now attend,
Or He in hands of wrath will soon enfold you.”

19. AMOS the prophet would his flock defend,
Saying, “Listen! God soon will send
Drought and great famine,
So your lives examine,
For your sin and vice
This drought shall be the price;
God’s Word shall be withheld from all in common.

20. Unto the shepherds cried EZEKIEL,
“Feed the sheep and pasture them well;
Leave no one wanting,
You will give accounting
For your life and way
When comes the Final Day,
And there shall be distress and woe surmounting.”

21. God’s true servant JOEL hope in Jesus laid,
Kindly warned the people and said
God’s wrath lay o’er them,
So with pray’r implore Him,
And in Godly fear
Await His advent near,
When good and wicked both must stand before Him.

22. JOB, the long-suff’ring did God prove and test,
And to send him grief and unrest
Satan did borrow.
Quickly came Job’s sorrow,
Friends and wealth he lost,
His body bore the cost.
In faith he said, “God can right all tomorrow.”

23. Youthful TOBIAS by the angel stood,
Trusted in his words, as was good,
Went from his father,
Rightful gold to gather,
Sara loved he fain,
Whose seven grooms were slain
He chased the slayer off, and they were wedded.

24. JONAH the prophet Nineveh forsook,
Fled to sea, to God would not look,
When storm inflated
Drew the lot ill-fated
Leapt into the sea,
And swallowed up was he
And brought alive to land full three days later.

25. By faith SUSANNA found deliverance
From the plot of two wicked men,
Who would abuse her.
But ere they so used her,
God did them prevent,
His messenger he sent
Disproved and put to death the false accusers.

26. DANIEL knew sorrow, but to God held fast;
Down into a pit he was cast
With lions seven,
That had not been given
Meat for many a day,
But God had heard him pray,
And shut the lion’s mouths, and him delivered.

27. JUDITH the widow, led the battle bold,
Acted sweetly, prayed unto God,
Of foes unfearful;
Holofernes, evil,
Promised her to wed,
And as he lay in bed,
She cut his head clean off, and freed her people.

28. DAVID, God’s servant, as a prophet reigned,
He had faith and steadfast remained,
Giving God’s pleasure
Writing all in measure
Which he saw by grace
Full many things took place,
And at last he gave all confirmation.

29. SOLOMON, glorious, waxed in wealth and fame,
Kings and rulers all knew his name,
And his wise writing,
All his words reciting.
These words still remain
In hearts that love God’s name:
By faith in God, the truth was his delighting.

30. God gave assurance to ELIZABETH
That she would behold by true faith
Fruit of her body:
John his parents called him:
Precious man of God,
And witness of His Word,
Whose like there hath not been nor ever shall be.

31. Saint JOHN the Baptist to the Jordan came
To the world God’s Word to proclaim,
Baptism giving
For repentance living;
Witnessed to God’s Son,
And said, “This holy One
Baptized by me, shall for all sins make payment.”

32. MARY, pure virgin, was by grace alone
Chosen to give birth to God’s Son
In womb so lowly,
Jesus Christ most holy,
Who alone could save—
To Him her flesh she gave,
Remaining ever virgin, God’s true Mother.

33. SIMEÒN righteous, in old age found grace,
In his arms his God to embrace,
And see salvation,
In the incarnation
Christ, his infant Lord,
Whom God o’er all adored,
And said, “God here restores His lost creation.”

34. Our LORD, CHRIST JESUS, very Man and God.
As all saints bore witness and showed;—
Glad news they gave us:
He won God’s good favor
For His sons most dear
And brought His children cheer,
Defeating death upon the cross to save us.

35. Sing we together to the Lord of heav’n,
Praise to God our Father be giv’n,
With Christ, the Savior,
And the Spirit ever,
One true God for ay!
In choirs of endless day,
To Him be glory, laud, and praise forever.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

1. O starker Gott[e],
Herre Zebaoth,
du gewaltger
deines Volks Israel.
der du hast geschaffen
Feur, Luft, und Wasser,
Himmel und Erden,
gib Gnad, daß wir alle selig werden.

2. Wer begehrt Weisheit,
die rechte Wahrheit,
will sie lehren,
muß sich kehren,
zu Gott dem Herren,
seinen Worten glauben,
von Herzen trauen,
seinn Grund darauf bauen,
der wird die Ehre des Herren [ewig] schauen.

3. Als der alt’ ADAM
Aus[ de]m Paradies kam,
sein Herz richtig,
war noch glaubig,
der Wort’ eindächtig,
die Gott sprach zur Schlangen:
“Einer soll kommen
von des Weibes Samen
nachdem die [ganze] Welt wird habn Verlangen.

4. ABEL, [des] Adams Sohn,
Fing sein[e] Werk recht an
durch den Glauben,
Gott zu loben, [laben]
opfert sein Garben,
der Kain, sein Bruder
zankt mit ihm drüber,
und war[d] ihm ganz wider,
schlug ihn zu Tod und war der erste Mörder.

5. NOE, der fromme Mann, [NOAH]
sah Gottes Zorn an,
tät sich rüsten,
mit seim Kasten,
seins Glaubens trösten,
ein Jahr mußt er schweben,
im Wind und Regen,
und bleib selb acht leben
und alle Tier, die ihm Gott drein hat geben.

6. ABRAHAM der Mann
nahm Gottes Wort an
Er mußt wandern,
sein Leib ändern,
in fremde[m] Land[e],
Gott schwur ihm, Er wollte
ihm gebn sein Hulde:
durch ihn kommen sollte
sein Gnad für allen die in Adams Schulde.

7. Sein Weib, die SARAH,
war ganz unfruchtbar,
glaubt den Worten,
die sie hörte
von Gottes Boten.
Der sprach, Gott wills haben,
du sollt empfahen
und einen Sohn tragen,
zum Zeichen wird sein, Isaac sein Name[n].

8. Der Knab ISAAC,
war im Geist so stark,
daß er glaubig
und ganz willig
zum Tod geduldig,
sein Vater stund da,
opfert Gott seinen Sohn
und greif ihn mit Ernst an.
Gott sprach: “Halt auf, meinen Willen hastu gethan.”

9. JACOB kam zuvor,
nahm des Segens wahr
von sein[e]m Vater
nach dem Vorteil
und seiner Mutter.
Er macht sich bald davon,
gläubt und ruft Gott an.
Der war auch sein Gleitsmann,
und schick[et] ihn dann zu seinem Freunde Laban.

10. JOSEPH glaubt an Gott, [glaubt auch Gott]
darum leidt er Noth,
seine Brüder
war[e]n ihm wider,
trugen ihm übel,
in ein Loch ihn senkten,
den Alten kränkten;
sein Kleid mit Blut sprengten.
Um dreißig Silberling sie ihn verschenkten.

11.Der gerechte LOTH,
glaubt und fürchtt auch Gott.
Er warnt freundlich
die fünf Kön[i]greich
in ihr[e]m Thun sündlich
als kein Mensch wollt hören,
mußt Gott selbs[t] wehren,
die Land mit Feur kehren,
den Mann mit zweien Töchtern herausführen.

12. MO[Y]SES ward gesandt
In Egyptenland, [Ägyptenland]
von Gott selber
zu dem König
Er tät da viel Wunder, [Er da that viel Wunder]
führt [r]aus die Kinder,
durch meerstiefe Gründe; [durchs Meergrunde]
die Feind[e] gingen all hinter ihm unter. [hinder im unter]

13. AARON nahm an
das Hohepriesterthum,
sein Kleid ehrlich,
sein Amt göttlich,
sein Lehr unsträflich.
Er tät Gott sein Opfer,
lobt Gott seinn Schöpfer,
darzu er berufen,
er trat zwischen Gott und des Volks Laster.

Ihr Glaub war feste
das Land spürten
nach Gott[e]s Worten
darauf verharrten
von dem alten Samen
zwe[e]n Feind[e] kamen
allein mit den Jungen,
haben das Land eingenommen.

15. GEDEON der Fürst
war zum Streit gerüstt
schlug viel König
und[e] Heiden
und all seine Feinde
in ihr Land ist kommen, [ins Land…]
ihr Städt gewonnen,
ihr Gut alles gnommen,
nach Gottes Willen, selbst darin zu wohnen.

16. Als ELIAS lebt,
der Welt widerstrebt,
die ihn plagten
und verjagten,
sehr hoch verklagten,
er schloß zu den Himmel:
Drei Jahr und drüber,
kein Regen fiel nieder;
durch sein[e]n Glauben erbat [?er] den wieder.

17. [?der] JESAJAS leidt, [Isaias leyd]
viel zu seiner Zeit,
um die Wahrheit
straft die Bosheit
und der Welt Thorheit
er klagt den Gerechten
den sie verachten [den sie durchechten]
und ihm ihr Recht brechen,
Und ohn Schuld ihm sein Leben absprechen.

18. JEREMIAS sach
große Schand und Schmach,
welchs die Jüden trieben
mit sehr großem Übel,
der spricht: “Ach, ihr Armen,
Laßt euch noch warnen,
sonst wird Gott bald zürnen,
und euch hie strafen ohn alles Erbarmen.”

19. AMOS der Prophet,
das Volk warnen tät,
sprach: “Nehmt wahr! Gott
wird ein’n Hunger
und Durst senden,
Nicht ein’n Hunger des Brots
Noch Durst des Wassers,
um eu[e]r Sünd und Last:
Nur Gottes Wort wird gehört an keinem Ort.

20. HESEKIEL klagt [Hesechiel]
und den Hirten sagt:
“Wie sie die Schaf
sollten weiden,
auf grüner Heiden,
sie müss[e]n Rechnung geben
von ihrem Leben
an dem Jüngsten Tage
da wird sein groß Jammer und Weh[e]klagen.”

21. JOEL, Gottes Knecht, [Johel]
glaubt im Herzen recht,
warn[e]t das Volk freundlich,
sagt ihn’n von dem
Jüngsten Tage:
Sie sollen fasten und beten
in Gottes Furcht einhertreten,
Der Herr wird bald kommen,
denn müssen herfür die Bösen und auch die Frommen.

22. Der geduldig HIOB [Job]
ward versucht von Gott
durch den Satan
greif ihn hart an
in Angst und Trübsal
sein Kreuz war [g]schwinde
kein Gut, kein Freunde, [Gut noch Freunde]
sein Leib ganz geringe.
Er glaubt und sprach: “Gott kann mir[s] alles wenden.”

23. Der jung TOBIAS,
bei dem Engel saß,
gläubt seinen Worten,
ließ sein’n Vater
und sein Mutter,
Sarah tät er lieben
bei der tot blieben.
Der Männer wohl sieben
nahm sie zur Ehe, und scheidt mit ihr hinwieder.

24. JONAS der Prophet
war zu Ninive;
sein Amt ließ er,
flo[c]h zum Schiffherrn
hoch aufs Wasser;
sein Los tät ihm bringen, [ihn bringen]
mußt heraus/springen.
Ein Fisch tät ihn verschlingen,
am dritten Tag zum Land lebendig bringen.

25. Durch den Glauben
kam SUSANNA davon
von den Lügnern
zween alten Buben
die falsch gezeugten
in ihrn höchsten Nöthen
tät sie Gott retten
schickt selbst hin den Boten
und ließ die falschen Richter töten.

26. DANIEL leidt Noth,
sah für ihm den Tod,
in der Gruben
mußt er ruhen
bei sieben Löwen,
unter sieben Tagen
kein Speis ihm gaben,
sein Noth tät Gott klagen,
der half ihm heraus ohn allen seines Leibes Schaden.

27. JUDITH das fromme Weib
die führet den Streit
stalt sich freundlich
bat Gott herzlich
den Feinden schrecklich
der Fürst Holofernes
tät ihr Verläubnis
und hielt sein Verbündnis.
Sie reiß ihm ab den Kopf und macht damit ihr Volk los.

28. Der königlich Prophet,
Gottes Knecht DAVID
der war gläubig
und beständig,
dem Herrn gefällig
was er hat geschrieben
im Geist gesehen
das ist viel geschehen
und zuletzt mußt ers noch alles verjähen.

29. Der reiche SALOMON,
hat das ewige Ruhm
bei den höchsten
Herrn und Fürsten,
und der Welt Besten
sein Schrift ist hie blieben
und ist hie nieder
bei denn die Gott lieben
sein Glaub hat ihn zu der Wahrheit trieben.

ward von Gott gewährt,
durch den Glauben
ward sie schauen
ihr Frucht für Augen
ihr Son hieß Johannes
ein theur’r Mann gottes
ein Zeugnis seines Wortes
seinsgleichen auf Erden noch nie erhört ist.

31. JOHANNES kam
zuletzt an Jordan.
Gottes Wort ruft er,
zur Buß tauft er,
Den HERRn bezeuget.
Er spricht der ist selbst
den ich getauft hab
Der vor und nach mir war
der aller Welt Sünd bezahlen soll.

32. MARIA allein,
ein Jungfrau rein,
empfing geistlich,
gebar leiblich
Christum auf Erdreich,
Gottes Sohn ganz heilig,
durch den wir selig
dem alle Ding mächtig
sie bleibt Jungfrau und Mutter Gottes ewig.

33. Der alte SIMEON,
war im Glauben fromm,
erkannt die Gottheit,
in der Menschheit,
in kleiner Kindheit,
ein Heil aller Welt,
Gott hat gestellt,
das ihm wohlgefället,
er sprach: Gott hat sich, zu uns gesellet.

der Mensch und Gott ist,
wie die zeugen
und selbst gläuben,
und uns erfreuen,
der uns armen Sündern
seinn allerliebsten Kindern
seinn liebsten Freunden
den Tod zu gut, am Kreuz hat überwunden.

35. Laßt uns alle gleich,
alt, jung, arm und reich
Gott stets loben,
hoch dort oben,
ins HImmels Choren
seinen Sohn der Wahrheit,
seinn Geist der Weisheit,
allein einer Gottheit
sein Ehr und preis
hie und dort in Ewigkeit. Amen.


Paul McCain said...

This is utterly fascinating, for many reasons, but not least of which is that I've never seen anything by Musculus, one of the signatories of the Formula of Concord, let alone anything by him translated into English!

Can you confirm that this is, indeed, Andrew Musculus, not some other chap?

Walter said...

Congratulations ! I tried to 'find' this hymn when you spoke about it earlier but found nothing. I wonder how difficult it was to find ! (I also wonder why Lot is a little outta' place and your eye skipped pour Abraham and made him Noah's wife--something which can be easily changed). Mazeltov and Thank you.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Rev. McCain.

I don't know of Andreas Musculus having written any hymns, unlike the famous hymnwriter Wolfgang Musculus (Meußlin).

The dubious ascription seems to have come from Andr. Musculus' association with the Frankfurt a.d.O. publisher Eichorn: C.W. Spieker's "ein Beitrag...", suggests (p. 28ff) that Eichorn was induced to include this hymn, and others, in the Frankfurt hymnals through the influence of "a learned man" which, Spieker claims, could not have been anyone but Andr. Musculus.

Goedeke, in Grundriß (vol. 2, p. 167), under a section dealing with various paraphrases from Scripture, says, "perhaps from a far earlier time."

Fischer (Kirchenlied, p. 199): "The hymn is originally low German: 'O stercke Godt Herr Zebaoth,' and is first found in the Lübeck Enchiridion (1545) and then in the Magdeburg hymnals...High German: Erfurt (1550), in Eichorn, Frankfurt a.d.O. (1561)..." Here Fischer notes that Wackernagel omits the hymn.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Walter: thanks for you comments. Encouraging as always. The "Noah" error has been fixed. As far as Lot's order in the stanza, I have copied directly from Friedrich Blume's edition of Praetorius. Without access to the early broadsheet (they seem to have one at Yale on microfiche), or the Erfurt Enchiridion, I can't say for sure whether that was inherited from the Low German version or not. Also notice the order of the Apocryphal figures.

Walter said...

I did notice the Apocryphal figures in the hymn.( I sure wish the books had been included in my 'The Lutheran Study Bible', but understand the reasons why they were not.) And the Isaac typology with our Lord was done so well ! Prima!