German: Die Güldne Sonne
Text: Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676). Johann Georg Ebeling (1620-1676)
1. The golden morning, Joy her adorning, On us is gleaming, Rays brightly beaming, With her beloved heart-quickening light. My head and members Lay deep in their slumbers, But now awaking, All sleep from me shaking, Gazing on heav’n, I rejoice at the sight. 2. Mine eye’s beholding God’s work unfolding, Made for His glory, Telling the story Of all His power so mighty and great And where the Father His faithful shall gather In peace, whenever Earth’s ties they shall sever, Leaving this mortal and perishing state. 3. Come ye with singing, Our Maker bringing Each good and blessing We are possessing: All be to God as an offering brought, The best oblation Our heart’s adoration. Songs meet and thankful Are incense and cattle With which His pleasure most fitly is sought. 4. Evening and morning, Sunset and dawning, Wealth, peace, and gladness, Comfort in sadness: These are Thy works; all the glory be Thine! Times without number, Awake or in slumber, Thine eye observes us, From danger preserves us, Causing Thy mercy upon us to shine. 5. I have upraisèd To Thee, high praisèd, All my intentions: Let all my actions, With no offenses, in blessedness fare. Pitfalls, disgraces, And Lucifer’s vices, All that would bind me Drive Thou far behind me: Let me in all Thy Commandments endure. 6. Let me rejoicing, No envy voicing, See ev’ry blessing Thou may be setting In my dear brother’s and neighbor’s fair house. Covetous burning And unchristian yearning For gains ill-gotten: Do Thou swiftly blot them From this my heart, and then cast them all out. 7. This human nature, Poor, lowly creature, In but an hour, Shorn of its power Falters as death breathes upon it again. All that we cherish Must soon break and perish: Earth and all heavens Reduced to that substance Which they before their creation had been. 8. Though all decayeth, God ever stayeth, Nor doth He waver, He changeth never, His Word and will have immutable ground. His grace and favor Are steadfast forever, In our hearts healing Death’s pangs that we’re feeling, Keeping us now and eternally sound. 9. Father, O hear me, Pardon and spare me; Calm all my terrors, Blot out mine errors That by Thine eyes they may no more be scanned. Order my goings, Direct all my doings; As it may please Thee, Retain or release me; All I commit to Thy fatherly hand. 10. Wilt Thou be giving All that for living For me is needful? May I be heedful E’er in my heart of the Word come from Thee: God is the greatest, The fairest, the sweetest, God is the purest, The truest, the surest: Of all our treasures, the noblest is He. 11. Wilt Thou then grieve me, Gall for drink give me, Griefs to distress me, Burdens to press me? Yea, do whatever is pleasing to Thee. The good and healthful, The harmful, unhelpful, Thou my Physician, Who know’st my condition, Hast ne’er more chastened than any should be. 12. Griefs, though heart-rending, All have their ending; Though seas be roaring And winds outpouring, Thereafter shines the dear sun’s blessèd face. Fullness of pleasure And glorious leisure Then will be given To me there in heaven, Where all my thoughts are directing their gaze. Tr. Composite, Free Lutheran
MEDITATION Paul Gerhardt's hymns are central to the children's novel Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1827-1901). When Heidi comes back to her grandfather in the mountains of Switzerland from Frankfurt, where she has learned to read, she goes to visit the blind grandmother who lives nearby. Before she had asked Heidi to read to her but she could not. Now she can. Heidi asks which hymn to read. The grandmother says, "You choose." She finds this one and begins reading it. As she reads, she sees the old woman listening with indescribable joy. After she has reread the hymn she looks back at grandmother’s face. “It had no longer the old troubled expression, but was alight with peace and joy as if she were already looking with clear new eyes into the garden of Paradise.” That she could give the old woman such joy makes Heidi happy
Few scenes in literature demonstrate the peace and joy the reading of an old hymn can give another. (The Shirley Temple movie and many translations do not use the hymns or Bible stories in the original, so be careful if you order it that you get the unrevised version.)
The hymn follows the typical form of a morning hymn. It starts with the rising sun, the reason for praising God, then for help keeping the commandments through the day, a prayer for forgiveness and then that God will "direct all my doings" during the day and finally looking toward heaven.
A bit long for singing today, or for morning prayer, but read it through or listen to it and rejoice in the great gifts Paul Gerhardt has given us in his wonderful hymns. They help us live a good life together with our Lord where we will have "fullness of pleasure/and glorious leisure."
HYMN INFO This hymn was written toward the end of Gerhardt’s life. Crüger, his co-worker, was no longer alive. Ebeling succeeded Crüger at the Nikolai church in Berlin and worked with Gerhardt. In 1667 he published a book with 120 of Gerhardt's hymns. This is Ebeling's most beloved tune and fits very well with the text. Ebeling came from Lüneberg, in far eastern Germany at the time. In English the hymn translated by Richard Massie has tended to use only Stanza 4 and 9 which makes it suitable for both morning and evening devotions. But it leaves out a lot. I wanted you to see the whole thing in a singable form.
LINKS Concordia Publishing House https://youtu.be/BwZcmovAhdQ
Bach’s arrangement BWV 451 https://youtu.be/nLBQuSgAVec