01 November 2010

Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für (Becker, 1631)

With plenty of time to practice for June 25, 2011, here is my translation of the Augsburg Confession hymn, “Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für / die reine Augspurgische… ” (C. Becker, 1631), after Helmbold’s “Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für” (TLH#288), originally published with the title "The 21 articles of the Augsburg Confession summarized in song form." This was later reworked by Sigismund von Birken, and appeared in that form in 1668. It is certainly more amenable to congregational singing in the divine service than a similar hymn with longer stanzas by Fabricius, though certainly at the expense of doctrinal precision. The melody appointed is, “Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für” (not in TLH), or “Wohl dem, der in Gottes Furcht steht.” Other possible tunes would be “Erhalt uns, Herr, in deinem Wort,” and “Herr Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht.”

Please post any corrections or concerns over wording.

LORD, EVER keep for us secure
The Augsburg doctrine true and pure,
Which John th’ Elector did confess
Before the world with fearlessness.

Article I. Of the Divine Being.
2. That You are three in unity,
One God from all eternity,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,—
This is our clear confession’s boast.

Article II. Of Original Sin.
3. We further without fear confess
Our sin and gross unrighteousness
Inherited, for which, forlorn,
We perish would, unless reborn.

Article III. Of the Person and Work of Christ.
4. This also gives us hope and cheer,
That Jesus Christ, our Savior dear,
True God and Man came to us men
And all the world redeemed from sin.

Article IV. Of Justification of the Poor Sinner Before God.
5. A man is therefore saved and blest
If he believes in Jesus Christ,
Who made our sin as white as snow,
And paid the debt He did not owe.

Article V. Of the Means of Obtaining Faith.
6. Such faith we surely too obtain
When we with eagerness remain
In Word and Sacrament, nor shirk;
The Spirit thus perfects His work

Article VI. Of the Fruits of Faith.
7. Where faith is found, there follow too
At every hour good works and true;
Yet only faith can justify,
Works to the neighbor help supply.

Article VII. Of the Christian Church.
8. The Church of Christ must there be sought
Where God’s whole Word is purely taught,
And Christ’s most holy Sacrament
Is given after His intent.

Article VIII. What the Church Is.
9. As in a flock strange sheep may go,
So in the Church it is also,
Where hypocrites may often lurk;
Yet this hurts not God’s holy work.

Article IX. Of Baptism.
10. Baptis'm’s font, the blessed bath,
Brings us God’s grace and stills His wrath;
It makes us children blest and new,
And washes off sin’s crimson hue.

Article X. Of the Supper.
11. Christ also therefore did ordain
The Holy Supper to retain:
Gives us His body and His blood
With [or ’Neath] bread and wine for our great good.

Article XI. Of Confession and Absolution.
12. And of confession, it is taught
That none can know all errors wrought,
Yet one should come and humbly say
“Lord, loose the sins that on me weigh.”

Article XII. Of Repentance.
13. Repentance given was for them
Whose sins weigh heavy and seem grim,
And who believe in Christ their Lord,
And see what help it shall afford.

Article XIII. Of the Sacraments.

14. The Sacraments’ true, proper use
Our good confession also shows.
They are the tokens of God’s grace,
Faith’s aid of strength and resting-place.

Article XIV. Of Ecclesastical Order.
15. In church none teach, this we believe,
Save who a proper call receive,
And enter office orderly,—
A shepherd good they then will be.

Article XV. Of Church Customs.
16. Of useful customs, every one
In proper season may be done;
Your conscience only let think not
As if thereby you merit aught.

Article XVI. Of Civil Affairs.
17. All rulers, laws, and governments
Exist by God’s good ordinance,
And all their honor to sustain
Our good confession tells us plain.

Article XVII. Of Christ’s Return to Judgment.
18. The Final Judgment is to come,
When Christ shall raise His Christendom
In flesh to heaven’s hall, and send
The wicked to eternal pain.

Article XVIII. Of Free Will.
19. In outward matters man is free
To do or do not willingly,
But as for matters spiritual,
Man understands no thing at all.

Article XIX. Of the Cause of Sin.
20. Our God is not the cause of sin,
As unbelievers would maintain;
Sins only rise from Satan’s art,
With help of man’s perverted heart.

Article XX. Of Faith and Good Works.

21. Though we good works may well revere
The Word of God is very clear,
That we are justified, we own,
And saved by grace, through faith alone.

Article XXII. Of Saints, How They Should Be Honored.
22. Pray not to saints, nor them invoke;
For such a thing God does not look;
They are examples, so that we
May live and trust Him blamelessly.

23. Thus is our doctrine summarized.
If you would be of more apprised,
Read Holy Scripture, as you can,
And guard yourself from lore of man.

24. O God, grant those who lead our land let all authority
In this confession firm to stand steadfast be,
That our descendants may enjoy
Their doctrine pure without alloy.

25. Amen, O Holy Trinity:
All glory ever be to Thee,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
You teach the faith we need the most.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

1. Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für
die reine Augspurgische Lehr,
so Churfürst Jans, der theuer Held,
freudig bekannt für aller Welt.

2. Daß du seist Drei in Einigkeit,
ein wahrer Gott von Ewigkeit,
Vater, Sohn und heiliger Geist,
unser Bekenntnis klärlich weist.

3. Ferner bekennen mir ohn Scheu,
daß die Erbsünde grausam sei
und müßten alle sein verlorn,
wo wir nicht würden neu geborn.

4. Gleichwohl dies uns auch tröstlich ist,
daß du, O Heiland Jesu Christ,
als Gott von Art und Mensch ein Held,
von allen Sündn erlöst die Welt.

5. Daher der Mensch wohl selig ist,
der gläubt an Herren Jesum Christ,
der zudeckt alle Missethat,
zahlt, was er nicht verschuldet hat.

6. Solchen Glauben erlangen wir,
wenn wir uns halten mit Begier
zum Wort und heilgen Sacrament;
der Geist alsdann die Werk vollend.

7. Wo nun der Glaub rechschaffen ist,
folgen die Werk zu jeder Frist:
doch macht allein der Glaub gerecht,
die Werk die sind des Nächsten Knecht.

8. Wir gläuben ein Christlich Gemein,
darinnen wird gepredigt rein
Gotts Wort, die heiligen Sacrament
nach Christi Ordnung ausgespendt.

9. Gleichwie gemenget ist ein Herd,
also es in der Kriche geht:
viel Scheinheilge mitlaufen ein,
die Sacrament doch kräftig sein.

10. Die heilge Tauf, das selig Bad,
beit uns an Gottes reiche Gnad
und macht die lieben Kinderlein
von ihren Sünden sauber rein.

11. So hat Christus gestiftet auch
des heilgen Abendmals Gebrauch
und uns verordnet Brod und Wein,
drunter sein Leib und Blut soll sein.

12. Von der Beicht also lehret man,
daß, obgleich niemand wissen kann
sein Sünd, soll er demütiglich
sagn: deck zu, Herr, was ich weiß nicht.

13. Die Buße ist gesetzet ein
vor die, so ihre Sünd bereun,
Gläuben an den Herrn Jesum Christ,
denken, was ihnen nütdzlich ist.

14. Der Sacramenten rechten Brauch
unser Bekenntnis weiset auch:
sie sind Zeichen der Göttlichn Gnad,
allda der Glaub sein Stärkung hat.

15. Wer in der Kirch will lehren wohl,
rechten Beruf er haben soll
und gehn zur rechten Thür hinein,
ein guter Hirt wird er dann sein.

16. Was in der Kirch geordnet ist,
dem komm du nach zu jeder Frist;
dein Gewissen nimm darbei in Acht,
daß kein Verdienst werd draus gemacht.

17. Das Regiment und Polizei
Gottes löbliche Ordnung sei
und man dieselbe ehren soll,
unser Bekenntnis weiset wohl.

18. Das Jüngst Gericht zukünftig ist,
da weisen wird der Herre Christ
sein Gläubigen in Himmelssaal,
die Bösen in die ewge Qual.

19. In äußerlichen Dingen viel
vermag des Menschen freier Will:
aber sich, was des Geistes ist,
der Mensch darvon verstehet nichts.

20. Die Sünd wirkt nicht der fromme Gott,
wie ihm Schuld gibt die böse Rott:
sie rührt allein vom Teufel her,
verkehrter Will darzu hilft sehr.

21. Gute Werk wir verbieten nicht,
gleichwohl Gottes Wort klärlich spricht,
daß durch den Glauben wir allein
aus Gnad gerecht und selig sein.

22. Die Heiligen ruf ja nicht an,
von dir Gott solches nicht will han;
ihnen sollstu folgen allein,
im Glauben, im Lebn unsträflich sein.

23. Das ist die Summa unser Lehr.
Wer nun Bericht will haben mehr,
der nehm die heilge Schrift zur Hand
und hüt sich vor der Menschen Tand.

24. O Gott, gib unser Obrigkeit
in dieser Lehr Beständigkeit
damit dieselbe lauter, rein
auch komm auf unser Kinderlein.

25. Amen, du heilg Dreifaltigkeit:
dir sei Lob, Preis, und Ehr allzeit,
Dir Vater, Sohn, dir, heilger Geist!
Du uns den rechten Glauben weist.


Michael Mohr said...

In stanza 24, "in this confessions" - I think that's just a typo. Wouldn't it be "these confessions" or "this confession"? "This confession" would be better, I think.

Also, in the first line of that same stanza, this translation seems to appeal merely to secular authorities, but I understand Obrigkeit to be a little more general - any leader either churchly or secular. Perhaps "those who lead our band"?

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Thanks, Rev. Mohr (I presume). I've also proposed another possibility in the original post (the replaced lines are stricken through).

Pastor Biebert said...

I wonder if you couldn't improve on the German original in your translation of st. 5. It reads: "Who MAKES our sin as white as snow, And PAYS the debt He did not owe." Wouldn't "made" and "paid" be better? That would capture the objective nature of justification, that faith is nothing more (and nothing less) than appropriating to oneself what is already true in Christ. Cf. Walther's 27th evening lecture ("Law and Gospel," p. 322) and Chemnitz's "Examination of the Council of Trent," Vol. 1, p. 362, para. 6. Obviously the forgiveness of Christ is ongoing in a sense (not a process, just always in effect), but I think the past tense is just plain clearer, more biblical, and offers sturdier comfort for the poor sinner. My sins are gone, period. They aren't in the process of being taken away as we speak.

Thanks for taking the time to consider this change.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Point well taken, Pr. Biebert. I thank you for your suggestions, especially since I view this hymn as sort of the property of the church and for its catechesis; good suggestions to improve and clarify it are welcome.