Here is my translation of the sanctification hymn, “Ob ich schon war in Sünden todt” (Joachim Neander, d. 1680), in NEGB #191 with melody assignment “Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein.” It appears earlier in Krauß (1708), Praxis Pietatis Melica (1708, 1712), etc. Though Fischer omits it, Wetzel includes it among Neander’s hymns. By content and melody it forms an obvious response or counterpart to Luther’s justification hymn, though its general applicability is limited by its nature as an autobiographical expression; which, in addition to the confession of its author, justly excludes it from regular usage today, despite some salutary phrases. Koch tells of its conception: “After some time, something occurred which drew him even closer to God. He had not yet wholly submitted to the yoke of the Spirit, and in particular, he had not yet given up his hunting hobby. Under its impulse, he once climbed a high and precipitous mountain and was so lost that he could no longer find the way. Meanwhile, night fell, and he grew afraid of the wild beasts dwelling in that desolate place. He was even inclined, to his obvious peril, to let himself down from the lofty rock onto which he had happened, when a sense of horror prevented him. Now there was no other solution than to fall on his knees, to implore God’s deliverance, to pledge a thorough amendment of his own heart, mind, and senses. Then it was suddenly as if someone took him by the hand and led him away. He followed this draw and successfully found the way home. From then on he sought in all earnest to pay his vow to the Lord, and passed increasingly into a new life, such that he was able to sing with praise: ‘Though I lay dead,” &c.
THOUGH I lay dead in all my sin,
Remote from life and heaven, *Eph. 4:18
Defeated and distraught within,
I was salvation given;
My Jesus willed to rescue me;
He could not look away from me,
His tender heart was broken.
2 A new man filled my life and limb
And loved what was detested.
And with a faith that clings to Him
The Savior me invested;
My mind was lightened by His rays,
I found the riches of His grace,
The ways of God beholding.
3 My will then willed what God doth will;
How great was my contentment!
When He but beckoned, I was still,
Free from the least resentment.
What God forbade I did no more,
All hidden passions out I tore,
Which no one else perceiveth.
4 Wrath, vengeance, jealousy, and fear
Obscured God’s glory daily;
This now alone I long for here,
Imperfectly and frailly:
My members do Thou fitly dress
As weapons of Thy righteousness, *Rom. 6:13.
O Thou my Sanctifier!
5 O Lord, who hallowest my soul,
Let me shine with devotion!
Awake, my tongue, His name extol!
Mine eyes, weep with emotion!
For where such thousands go their way
And in their hardened thinking stray,
My Jesus sanctified me.
Translation © 2023 Matthew Carver.
Ob ich schon war in Sünden todt,
entfremdet von dem Leben, [entfernet…]
und lag im Blut in letzter Noth,
doch ist mir Heil gegeben.
Mein Jesus wollte mir beistehn,
er sollte nicht vorübergehn, [und konnte…]
es brach das Vaterherze. [des Vaters Herze]
2 Ein neuer Mensche lebte bald,
und liebte, das er hasset.
Der Heiland gab mir die Gestalt
des Glaubens, so ihn fasset:
es ward erleuchtet mein Verstand,
daß ich den Gnadenreichthum fand:
da sah ich Gottes Wege.
3 Mein Wille wollte, was Gott will,
wie war ich so vergnüget?
Wann er nur winket, schwieg ich still,
gleichwie ein Kind sich bieget.
Was Gott verboten, meidet ich,
verborgner Lust entzog ich mich,
die sonst kein Mensche siehet.
4 Zorn, Furcht, Verlangen, Eifer, Rach
war vor des Herren Ehre,
doch nicht vollkommen, sondern schwach,
ich dieses nur begehre!
Zu Waffen der Gerechtigkeit,
die Glieder waren auch bereit,
dir, o mein Heiligmacher.
5 Herr, meiner Seelen Heiligung,
gib, daß mein Licht nun scheine. [nur]
Wach auf! und lobe meine Zung,
mein Aug empfindlich weine;
Da so viel tausend gehen hin
in ihrem noch verstockten Sinn,
hat Jesus mich geheilet.