09 June 2010

Was kann uns kommen an für Noth

Here is my translation of the early paraphrase of Psalm 23, “Was kann uns kommen an für Noth” (A. Knöpken, 1527), originally written in Low German: “Wat kan uns kamen an vor not.” I actually came across what looks to be an old Latvian translation of the hymn before I ever found the German. The High German translation appears in Das ganz Psalter Davids, Tübingen (1569). Ludecus (1589) appoints it as a hymn for Trinity III.

The proper melody is what we know as "Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit," which was originally published in 1533 as an alternate to "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein." As noted in the comments by Pr. Diers, the tune "Herr, wie du willst, so schicks mit mir" (itself previously an alternate to "Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir") also works quite well with this text. Here is the Danish version, which uses "Es ist gewisslich." Various German scholars show that one early melody found in J. Klug and V. Triller was a contrafact (or in Triller's case, more or less a direct borrowing) of a secular folksong called "Wach auf, meins Herzens schöne," which I include below as well in Triller's setting, from his Schlesisch Gesengbüchlein. (Listen Here.)



Draft 3 ("You" version):
WHAT shall we want where Christ our Head,
Our Shepherd, ever leads us?
In pastures of His heav’nly bread
He satisfies and feeds us.
Our soul He freshens and restores,
And cools us where His fountain pours,—
His precious Holy Spirit.

2. On even paths for His great name
He safely keeps and guides us,
Forsaking not His sheep to shame
Whenever need betides us;
Therefore we ever bold shall be,
Though faced with death’s dark agony;
For Christ the Lord is with us.

3. Your rod and staff by which You guide
And comfort and correct us—
It is the cross that breaks our pride,
From error to protect us;
It curbs the pois'nous works of sin
That grieve the Holy Ghost within,
And else would make us wander.

4. Your table richly You prepare,
And ever keep before us
Your Holy Word’s delicious fare,
To comfort and restore us
Whene’er the foe our soul assails
This stronghold never breaks or fails,
Bound with Your Spirit’s fullness.

5. Your goodness and Your mercy, Lord,
Shall follow us forever
And all our days on us be poured,
That we through You, our Savior,
May dwell by living faith on earth
And there above in heav’nly mirth,
As Your dear church and children.

6. This all through Christ our Lord we pray,—
Our Shepherd and our Brother:
By grace through faith our souls convey
To God the heav’nly Father,
With God the Holy Spirit One;
So may Your gracious will be done!
Amen, we sing together.

Draft 2:
WHAT shall we want where Christ our Head,
Our Shepherd, ever leads us?
In pastures of His heav’nly bread
He satisfies and feeds us.
He doth our soul’s refreshment bring,
Revives us with His flowing spring,
His precious Holy Spirit.

2. On even paths for His great name
He safely keeps and guides us,
Forsaking not His sheep to shame
Whenever need betides us;
Therefore we ever bold shall be,
Though faced with death’s dark agony;
For Christ the Lord is with us.

3. Thy rod and staff by which Thou dost
Lead, comfort, and correct us—
It is the cross, that from our lust
And harm doth e’er protect us.
It quells the poison of our sin
And all the evils wrought within
Which else would make us wander.

4. Thy table Thou dost rich prepare,
And keep to sight divested:
Thy Holy Word’s delicious fare,
Within our heart digested.
Whene’er the foe our soul assails
This stronghold never breaks or fails,
Bound with Thy Spirit’s fullness.

5. Thy goodness and Thy mercy, Lord,
Shall follow us forever
And all our days on us be poured,
That we through Thee, our Savior,
May dwell by living faith on earth
And there above in heav’nly mirth,
As Thy dear church and children.

6. This all through Christ our Lord we pray,—
Our Shepherd and our Brother:
By grace through faith our souls convey
To God the heav’nly Father,
With God the Holy Spirit One;
So may Thy gracious will be done!
Amen, we sing together.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

Draft 1:

1. What shall we want if Christ our Head,
Our Shepherd, ever leads us?
In pastures of His heav’nly bread
He satisfies and feeds us.
Our soul’s refreshment doth He bring,
Revives us with His flowing spring,
His precious Holy Spirit.

2. On even paths for His great name
He safely doth escort us,
Forsaking not His sheep to shame,
When need or anguish hurt us;
Therefore we ever bold shall be,
Though faced with death’s dark agony;
For Christ the Lord is with us.

3. Thy blessed staff by which Thou dost
Lead, comfort, and correct us—
It is Thy cross, that from our lust
And harm doth e’er protect us.
It drains the poison of our sin
And all the evils wrought within
which else would rage and flourish.

4. Thy table Thou dost rich prepare,
And e’er to sight divest it—
Thy Holy Word’s delicious fare—
We with our heart digest it.
Whene’er the foe our soul assails
This stronghold never breaks or fails,
Bound with Thy Spirit’s fullness.

5. Thy goodness and Thy mercy, Lord,
Shall follow us forever
And all our days on us be poured,
That we through Thee, our Savior,
May dwell by living faith on earth
And there above in heav’nly mirth,
As Thy dear church and children.

6. This all through Christ our Lord we pray,—
Our Shepherd and our Brother:
By grace through faith our souls convey
To God the heav’nly Father,
With God the Holy Spirit One;
So may Thy gracious will be done!
Amen, we sing together.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

HIGH GERMAN (1569)
1. Was kann uns kommen an für Noth,
so uns der Herre weidet,
und speiset uns mit Himmel-Brod,
und auf die Weide leitet:
Darzu erquicket unsre Seel,
und kühlet mit dem Wasser-Quell
seins werthen Heilgen Geistes.

2. Und wegen seines Namens groß
Er führt auf rechter Strassen,
und thut in keiner Zeit trostlos
in Angst und Noth uns lassen;
darum wir stetig muthig sein
auch in des Todes Schattn und Pein;
denn uns der Herr beistehet.

3. Dein Stab, mit dem du leiten thust,
uns tröstet und auch strafet,
das Kreuz dämpfet des Fleisches Lust,
daß es nicht Schaden schaffet
dem Geiste durch der Sünden Gift,
die alles Böse (leider!) stift,
und thut sich stetes regen.

4. Du einen Tisch bereitet hast,
den stetes wir anschauen,
deins heilgen Wortes werthe Kost,
die wir im Herzen kauen;
wenn uns des Feindes List anfällt,
dieselb denn unser Seel erhält,
samt deines Geistes Fülle.

5. Dein Güte und Barmherzigkeit
uns, Herre, folgen werden,
von nun an bis in Ewigkeit,
daß wir allhier auf Erden
durch seligmachend Glauben seyn,
dort offenbahr im Saale dein,
Bürger und Hausgenossen.

6. Das helf uns der Herr Jesus Christ,
der unsre Hertzen bauet,
durch Glauben, der rechtthätig ist,
und Gott den Vater schauet;
durch Ihme, samt dem Heilgen Geist
aufdaß werd dieser Wunsch geleist,
so sprecht einmüthig, Amen!

LOW GERMAN (1530–4)
1. Wat kan uns kamen an vor nodt,
so uns de Here weidet
unde spiset uns mit Hemmelbrodt
und up de weide leidet,
Darto vorquicket unsen modt,
und kölet mit dem water söt
syns werden hilligen Geistes.

2. Um synes namen willen uns
he fört up rechter strate,
Leth uns tho nener tyd trostlos
in schad und ock in bate:
Darüm wy stedes mödig syn
ock in des dodes schem und pyn,
went du bist mit uns, Here.

3. De stock und staff unses pastors
uns trösten unde straffen,
dat Crütze dempt des flesches lust,
dat itt nicht schaden schaffen
dem geiste dorch der sünde gift,
de in dem sterfliken linc ys
und deit sick stedes rögen.

4. Du hefst bereit uns einen disch,
den wy stedes anschowen,
dins hilligen wordes werde spiss,
de wy im herten kowen:
Wenn uns des viendes list angript,
desülf den unse seel erquickt
sampt dynes geistes fülle.

5. Dyne güde unde barmherticheit
darumme [uns], Here, volgen
van nu an bett in ewicheit,
du bist unse vorsorger,
dat wy hyr dorch den [ge]loven syn
darto apenbar im sale dyn
börger und husgenoten.

6. Des help uns unse Here Jesu Christ
de unse herte buwet
dorch rechten [ge]loven und leve up sick,
dat wy den Vader schowen
dorch en sampt dem hilligen Geist:
welckeren de wünsch tho herten gheit,
spreken einmödich Amen.

7 comments:

Martin Diers said...

Matt,

This is fabulous! Instantly my favorite Psalm 23 adaptation, and nothing else comes close.

I would recommend "Herr, wie du willst" with this hymn. It fits so well.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Thanks for the good suggestions!

Perhaps you can help with a question I have about the doctrine of the cross expressed in stanza 3. It seems it is meant in a sanctification sense, not justification. In that case should it perhaps be "our cross," i.e. tribulation and trial?

Walter said...

Yes Matt, this is a treasure you have translated, and a treasure of a translation indeed !
And yes to the Cross as instrument of sanctification; that special dimension where grace enables us to crucify the world in our flesh. You know what I mean !
This Christianizes the psalm like nothing else !
What a discovery ! Thank you.
Walter

Martin Diers said...

I believe that you have found the best treatment in draft 2. It cannot be used in the Justification sense. Only the word "comfort" brings that forward. Quelling the poison of our sin - maybe. But Lead, chastise, suppress sin, keep us from wandering - definitely the Christian's cross, where we "follow after".

But our Christian cross is also a comfort, because it fulfills our Savior's words: "In the world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

I wonder if this version of stanza 3 might be better:

3. Thy rod and staff by which Thou dost
Lead, comfort, and correct us—
It is the cross, that from our lust
And error doth protect us,
It curbs the pois'nous works of sin
Which grieve the Holy Ghost within,
And else would make us wander.

Martin Diers said...

Yes, even better. And that restores the reference to the Spirit and keeps the sense of the verse together. Also, it sounds more German introducing line three "It is the cross...". :)

Walter said...

Hi Matt, a good 'dolmetcher' like you can see these subtle interpre-
tations. Your #2 draft doesn't bring in the 'Geist', whereas this draft certainly does so.
So this new version adds a real punch to the last 3 lines which version 2 does not have, by comparison.