Sunday, April 17, 2011

Augustine, Tersteegen, Wesley

Having been away on retreat, while there, perusing a hymnal, I came upon a splendid hymn, very Augustinian I thought, given the lines "My heart is pained, nor can it be / At rest, till it finds rest in Thee" (cf. his Confessions, 1.1.1.), written by the Pietist Gerhard Tersteegen, translated by Wesley, and set to a good German tune harmonized by Bach – how ecumenical! how evangelical! – and must therefore share this gem, which to me seems redolent of the heart's fearful fumbling quest for God while still amidst this world's allurements:

Thou hidden Love of God, whose height,
Whose depth unfathomed no one knows,
I see from far Thy beauteous light,
And inly sigh for Thy repose;
My heart is pained, nor can it be
At rest, till it finds rest in Thee.

Thy secret voice invites me still
The sweetness of Thy yoke to prove;
And fain I would; but though my will
Seems fixed, yet wide my passions rove;
Yet hindrances strew all the way;
I aim at Thee, yet from Thee stray.

’Tis mercy all that Thou has brought
My mind to seek its peace in Thee;
Yet while I seek, but find Thee not,
No peace my wandering soul shall see.
O when shall all my wanderings end,
And all my steps to Theeward tend?

Is there a thing beneath the sun
That strives with Thee my heart to share?
Ah, tear it thence and reign alone,
The Lord of every motion there;
Then shall my heart from earth be free,
When it hath found repose in Thee.

O hide this self from me, that I
No more, but Christ in me, may live!
My vile affections crucify,
Nor let one darling lust survive
In all things nothing may I see,
Nothing desire or seek, but Thee!

O Love, Thy sovereign aid impart
To save me from low thoughted care;
Chase this self will from all my heart,
From all its hidden mazes there;
Make me Thy duteous child that I
Ceaseless may Abba, Father cry.

Ah no! ne’er will I backward turn:
Thine wholly, Thine alone I am!
Thrice happy he who views with scorn
Earth’s toys, for Thee his constant flame;
O help that I may never move
From the blest footsteps of Thy love!

Each moment draw from earth away
My heart that lowly waits Thy call;
Speak to my inmost soul and say,
I am thy love, thy God, thy all!
To feel Thy power, to hear Thy voice,
To taste Thy love, be all my choice.

A suitable song with which to finish the course of Lent, and prepare for the great days of Holy Week, now opened with Palm Sunday Mass this morning.


Schütz said...

The tune is actually by Luther, and is much better in the original than in Bach's version. I can't find the original on the net, but the excellent 1972 Lutheran Hymnal of the Lutheran Church of Australia has it, and I will see if I can make up a midi file for you.

Here is one translation of Luther's original hymn:

"Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above"

1. Our Father, Thou in heaven above,
Who biddest us to dwell in love,
As brethren of one family,
To cry in every need to Thee,
Teach us no thoughtless word to say,
But from our inmost heart to pray.

2. Thy name be hallowed. Help us, Lord,
In purity to keep Thy Word,
That to the glory of thy name
We walk before Thee free from blame.
Let no false doctrine us pervert;
All poor, deluded souls convert.

3. Thy kingdom come. Thine let it be
In time and in eternity.
Let Thy good Spirit e'er be nigh
Our hearts with graces to supply.
Break Satan's power, defeat his rage;
Preserve Thy Church from age to age.

4. Thy gracious will on earth be done
As 'tis in heaven before Thy throne;
Obedience in our weal and woe
And patience in all grief bestow.
Curb flesh and blood and every ill
That sets itself against Thy will.

5. Give us this day our daily bread
And let us all be clothed and fed.
From war and strife be our Defense,
From famine and from pestilence,
That we may live in godly peace,
Free from all care and avarice.

6. Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore,
Remove from us their burden sore,
As we their trespasses forgive
Who by offenses us do grieve.
Thus let us dwell in charity
And serve our brother willingly.

7. Into temptation lead us not.
When evil foes against us plot
And vex our souls on every hand,
Oh, give us strength that we may stand
Firm in the faith, a well-armed host,
Through comfort of the Holy Ghost!

8. From evil, Lord, deliver us;
The times and days are perilous.
Redeem us from eternal death,
And when we yield our dying breath,
Console us, grant us calm release,
And take our souls to Thee in peace.

9. Amen, that is, So shall it be.
Confirm our faith and hope in Thee
That we may doubt not, but believe
What here we ask we shall receive.
Thus in Thy name and at Thy word
We say: Amen. Oh, hear us, Lord! Amen.

458 from the Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Matt. 6:9 ff.
Author: Martin Luther
Translated by: composite
Titled: Vater unser im Himmelreich
Tune: Vater unser
1st Published in: "Geistliche Lieder"
Town: Leipzig, 1539

Joshua said...

Many, many thanks!

I did surmise that putting "Augustine, Tersteegen, Wesley" as a heading might pique your interest.

I look forward to singing this hymn with you some time...

P.S. At my ordinary parish Mass this morning we sang Paul Turner's new Mass of St Francis (have I got the names right?) which I found very tuneful.