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HYMN 9 Entrust, While on your Journey

Updated: May 3

German: Befiehl du deine Wege

Psalm 37



Paul Gerhardt

Text: Paul Gerhardt (1607-1674) Tune: Johann Crüger (1598-16)


1. Entrust, while on your journey,

All that which grieves your heart,

Into the care most faithful

Of him who rules the stars,

To him whose power governs

A way for clouds and air,

For he will also find you

The way he has prepared.


2. To God, whom you must trust in

To bless you here on earth,

Look to his works around you

So that your work has worth.

Your own consuming worries,

Your tears or grief or cares

Will not bring God to help you:

Go to the Lord in prayer.


3. Your faithfulness and mercy,

O Father, know and see

All that is good or hurtful

For all your children’s needs,

For what your will has purposed

You do, Almighty One,

And what your wisdom pleases

Is by your counsel done.


4. Ways you will find, yes always,

You never lack the might,

Your deeds are purest blessing,

Your path is purest light,

Your work cannot be hindered

Your labor never rests,

When you would give your children

All that would serve them best.


5. And even if all devils

Would try to hold their sway

It never can be doubted

That God will win the day.

What he himself created

And what he wants to be

Will in the end live always

Through all eternity.


6. Hope always, weary Christian,

Hope, never, never fear,

For God will grasp you out of

The pit of sheer despair.

God’s mercies will relieve you

Of your anxieties.

Wait patiently, his sunshine

With joy you soon will see.


7. In him, rest all your sorrows,

Give them a glad good night.

Let go of all that troubles

Your heart and causes fright.

So rest, God is the ruler

Of everything that is,

He governs well from heaven

And everything is his.


8. Him, him, let him now govern,

The wisest Prince whose ways

Will manage all things wisely

So you will be amazed.

When he, as is his nature,

Will rule with power and truth

And he will find solutions

For all that troubles you.


9. He may delay a season

And seem to let you go,

As though he had intended

To leave you all alone

And let you be suspended

In anxious groans of rue,

As though he had forgotten

His promises to you.


10. Will you stay true and faithful

To him in whom you rest,

Then he will yet deliver

You when you least expect.

Then he will lift your burden,

And set your spirit free.

You’ll see your sorrows ended

In glorious liberty.


11. Yes, soon, oh child most faithful!

You have your battle won!

With glory and thanksgiving

You’ve now received your crown!

For God himself has given

A palm in your right hand

And now you sing in heaven

With those victorious bands.


12. Bring it about, O Father,

Now end our pain and need.

And strengthen for our journey

Our weary hands and feet

And let your care surround us

Steadfastly on our way

As every step will lead us

Toward heaven’s brighter day.


Psalm 37: 5 Entrust to God your ways and hope in him, he will, yes, bring it

about.

Tr. Gracia Grindal 2007


MEDITATION

As I was taking my temperature today, and thinking of all the millions around the world

taking theirs, I remembered an old saw from an old pastor in Norway. Normal body

temperature Fahrenheit is 98.6. In Celsius it is 37.5. Psalm 37.5, he had learned in

seminary, was normal.


It brought to mind the German Lutheran chorale by Paul Gerhardt, now sadly abandoned

in American Lutheran hymnals because of its length. (One can find it in the hymnals of

the last century: “Commit thou all that grieves thee” is a common first line. If one reads

old church programs this hymn would almost certainly be in the program for dedications,

funerals, and other significant events.) The hymn reflects on Psalm 37. It is also an

acrostic, meaning in this case that the first word in every stanza when combined is a

sentence, a paraphrase of Psalm 37:5. You can see it in the bolded words in the stanzas.

Back when people had hymnals in their homes which they brought to church, they had

time to meditate on a long hymn and learn from it, reading it and singing it through,

chewing on its meaning.


Lutherans came to understand their faith through these hymns, which became bulwarks

for them as they faced awful times, such as the Thirty Years War, which Paul Gerhardt

lived through, to say nothing of plagues and pestilence which frequently swept through

the land. It gave them words to meet their hardships and an understanding of God’s work.

The children’s book Heidi by the Swiss writer, Johanna Spyri, (1827-1901) shows how

that worked in a very sweet way. Heidi, living with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps,

had not learned to read. After a couple of years, she was taken to Frankfurt by her aunt.

Heidi was not happy about being forced to leave her grandfather, but she met a new

friend, Clara, and her grandmother. Clara’s grandmother was appalled that Heidi could

not read and made sure she learned how to.


When Heidi happily returned to her grandfather, she ran to her friend Peter’s

grandmother who was blind and told her she could now read the hymns, mostly

Gerhardt’s, that the grandmother had longed to hear. As she did, she both gladdened the

heart of the grandmother and learned the truths of the Gospel. This hymn became the

most important.


She used it to understand her own situation—learning from Clara’s grandmother that God

answered prayers but not always right away. “He may delay a season…” But when the

answer came it would be perfect and much better for you than what you had asked.

Heidi realized this had happened in her own life when her prayers to return to her

grandfather were finally answered, but not after she had learned to read. She then

understood the truth of the hymn. She used it to comfort the doctor who had told Clara’s

father to let Heidi return to her grandfather. When he expressed his sorrows to Heidi one

day she comforted him with this hymn. Something he remembered his mother doing

years before.


God is working in each of us during this strange time to answer our prayers in ways we

cannot imagine. We may even be thankful he didn't answer prayers we had prayed long

ago. Remain steadfast; God will surprise you. Keep your temperature normal. Psalm

37.5. Entrust your ways to him!


Read Psalm 37 for part of your Sunday meditations!….More tomorrow on this great

hymn.

Once again there are thousands of settings of this great hymn on line. (The tune is the

same as “O Sacred Head now Wounded.”)


HYMN INFO

The tune by Johann Crüger is also the tune for "O Sacred Head Now Wounded." In prior days, text writers would suggest an old tune for their text. The meant that this tune was used frequently for many texts in the 17th century.


LINKS

Nicolas Harnoncort from the St. Matthew Passion

https://youtu.be/kdvAkO06otk


As sung in the Thomas church for the funeral of Kurt Masur; a good view of the church, -

but some differences between the organist and the choir director on tempo!

https://youtu.be/TXMZVpwiLaw

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