Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The comfort of poet and hymnwriter

Listen to the poet who stirs our hearts to faith and to hymn writers who call us to sing when we are tempted to silence. . .

“Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”
By John Donne

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ’s cross, and Adam’s tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”

Herman Stuempfle (1923-2007), noted Lutheran author and hymnwriter, has put the words of Joachim (Jochen) Klepper (1903- 1942) into a very worthy evening hymn.

I lie, O Lord, within Your care,
Awake or when I’m sleeping.
Whoever trusts in Your strong arms
Is safe within Your keeping.

Lord, You alone keep constant watch;
My restless heart You quiet.
When darkness fills the night with fear,
I will by faith defy it.

When shadows fall, I will not dwell
On troubles that distress me,
Nor let some painful memory
Embitter and oppress me.

It is enough that You are near;
I need not now discover
What hidden plans You have for me,
My future’s path uncover.

Tomorrow’s road I cannot trace
Nor know what ills will meet me.
You only ask that I be still
And trust You there will greet me.

Each dawning day to which I wake
Will show Your hand still guiding
And ev’ry good my life requires
Your grace again providing.

Though troubles still may cloud the sky,
I’ll see beyond them shining
A light to show some hidden way—
A way of Your designing.

Since You have gently touched my eyes,
I’ll sleep through tears of sorrow.
Though long the night, my God, my friend,
Will be my guide tomorrow.

Text: © 2000 GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110004930

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