19 October 2012

Walther's Hymnal Excerpt #1: "Come Hither Saith the Son of God"

This is the first post in a small series I am doing of excerpts from the upcoming Walther's Hymnal (Concordia Publishing House, 2012). Here it is on CPH's website. This is an excerpt of a Composite translation prepared especially for this hymnal from the hymn “Kommt her zu mir,” by G. Grünwald, which is found as #276, in the section entitled “Christian Life.” In the upcoming Walther's Hymnal, all 16 stanzas are provided in full.

The earliest publication of the German was a two-hymn broadside dated 1530, where it is entitled “A fine new Christian hymn.” The attribution of the hymn to the Anabaptist Georg Grünwald is made by Wackernagel based on second-hand accounts. At times in its history, being in accord with the Lutheran teaching on sanctification, appearing at such an early date, and so widely sung by Lutherans, the hymn was even erroneously attributed to Dr. Luther himself (e.g., in Eler's Cantica, Hamburg, 1588). Other contenders for authorship were Hans Witzstadt von Wertheim and Jörg Berkenmeyer von Ulm.  

Remarkable for its length as for the earnestness of its admonition to repentance, it is perhaps most notable for its familiar tune, “Kommt her zu mir,” which was first paired with it. Those familiar with The Lutheran Hymnal and Lutheran Service Book will recognize the tune as that appointed for “O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe” [TLH 263, LSB 666].

Note: The following text, as with all in this Walther's Hymnal series, is an excerpt of a CPH publication and does not fall under the Creative Commons License.

“COME HITHER,” saith the Son of God,
“All ye who loathe sin’s heavy load
And would no longer bear it;
Come hither, young and old, to Me,
For well I know your injury
And gladly would repair it.”

2. “My yoke is mild, My burden light,
And all who bear its easy weight,
Release from hell are given.
I’ll give them strength when theirs would fail,
And by My strength they shall prevail
And so inherit heaven.

3. “All I have done and suffered here
From womb to cross, do ye revere,
And emulate in measure.
What you may think or say or do
Is neither safe nor good nor true,
But as it seeks My pleasure.”

4. The world may wish the bliss to gain
Without the cross, reproach, and pain,
Of which they hear the warning:
It cannot be! The cross is there,
And they must choose its shame to bear,
Or endless shame and mourning.

 . . .

 9. The worldly are afraid of death,
And only when they gasp for breath
Are mindful of devotion.
One toiled for this and one for that,
But each his own poor soul forgot,
In all of earth’s commotion.

10. At last, when he must surely die,
He lifts to God an anxious cry,
And makes a forced surrender:—
I sadly fear, God’s slighted grace,
Which long with scorn he did efface,
Will scarce a pardon tender.
11. Dear children, ye your God who own
And piety in heart have shown,
Let not your souls be troubled!
Confide in Jesus’ holy Word,
The greatest Refuge ever heard,
So shall your joys be doubled.

  . . .

14. But seems your cross too much to bear?
Then think of hell—its dark despair—
To which the world is hasting:
Its flame eternally supplies
Each man with torment, groans, and sighs—
Its fuèl never wasting.

15. But ye, beyond this world’s annoy,
In Christ shall find your endless joy—
Which ye do well to ponder;
No mortal tongue can realize
What pleasures and eternal prize
Shall swell you with their wonder.

16. For, what the God of changeless truth
Confirms by Spirit and by oath,
Must come, and ye shall see it.
Whoso will trust His proffered grace
Shall in His kingdom find a place
Through Jesus Christ. So be it!

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