Updated: May 3
German: Befiehl du deine Wege
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
Tr. Gracia Grindal 2007
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
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
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
Once again there are thousands of settings of this great hymn on line. (The tune is the
same as “O Sacred Head now Wounded.”)
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.
Nicolas Harnoncort from the St. Matthew Passion
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!