top of page
Search

HYMN FOR LENT I Lord, Thee I Love with All my Heart

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

German: Herzlich lieb hab' ich dich, o Herr

Text: Martin Schalling (1532-1608) Tune: B. Schmid 1577

1 Lord, Thee I love with all my heart;

I pray Thee, ne'er from me depart,

With tender mercy cheer me.

Earth has no pleasure I would share,

Yea, heav'n itself were void and bare

If Thou, Lord, wert not near me.

And should my heart for sorrow break,

My trust in Thee can nothing shake.

Thou art the portion I have sought;

Thy precious blood my soul has bought.

Lord Jesus Christ, My God and Lord, my God and Lord,

Forsake me not! I trust Thy Word.

2 Yea, Lord, 'twas Thy rich bounty gave

My body, soul, and all I have

In this poor life of labor.

Lord, grant that I in ev'ry place

May glorify Thy lavish grace

And help and serve my neighbor.

Let no false doctrine me beguile;

And Satan not my soul defile.

Give strength and patience unto me

To bear my cross and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus Christ, My God and Lord, my God and Lord,

In death Thy comfort still afford.


3 Lord, let at last Thine angels come,

To Abram's bosom bear me home,

That I may die unfearing;

And in its narrow chamber keep

My body safe in peaceful sleep

Until Thy reappearing.

And then from death awaken me,

That these mine eyes with joy may see,

O Son of God, Thy glorious face,

My Savior and my fount of grace.

Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend,

And I will praise Thee without end.

Tr. Catherine Winkworth


REFLECTION

While this hymn is not suggested for Lent I, it fits it very well. It is most often suggested for funerals. Based on the Great Commandment to love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves, it can remind us of Satan's efforts to make Jesus not love God his Father above all things. Without Jesus’ victory in this cosmic battle, Satan might rule the world and no holy angels would hover over us as we live each day and rest at night.


Satan, while crafty, is pretty conventional. His values are completely of this world—food, power, and daring. He can quote Scripture but doesn’t understand it quite. Of course, he knows Jesus is hungry and that he could create bread out of stones. Satan believes the highest human ambition is power and understands the playground power of a double dare. Don’t you believe that the angels will catch you as promised in Psalm 91? While these temptations would loom large for us, they must be trivial to the Son of God.


We do know that Esau gave up his inheritance for a mess of pottage, but Jesus is not going to make that mistake. And the temptation to rule the world must have seemed almost comical to Jesus, Son of the Creator of all things. Would giving it all up for temporal rule be a fair trade? Hardly! Then being dared to test the promises of God by casting himself down from the heights? What?


Jesus will love his Father above all things so he can serve us. It is why he was born. We can learn from him how trivial these temptations ultimately are in the face of death. As the hymn has it, Jesus is the portion we have sought, all else fades before his face.


The hymn revels in the joy that we have in Jesus, now and forever. Being wakened from our sleep to see the face of Jesus, the fount of grace, is a hope the hymn pictures for us so simply it brings a tear to our eyes. Because Jesus beat the devil here and throughout his ministry, and then, finally, on the cross and the grave, we live in heavenly joy even now as we look forward to spending eternity in great joy!


HYMN INFO

Schalling was the son of an early follower of the Reformation in Strassbourg. He became a pastor, studying at Wittenberg University after Luther’s death. Philip Melanchthon, Luther’s colleague, was his tutor. He worked with him on the Book of Concord, although later withdrew. He ran into trouble with the rulers of his day for his theological convictions. After some difficulties with Frederick III in Amberg, he left, but returned to serve as Court Preacher and Superintendent for Frederick's son, Louis VI. He ended up serving the congregation in Nürnberg for twenty years until his death. The poem with its twelve lines is unusually long, but the melody is well crafted to fit the text.


Some attribute the tune to Balthazaar Schmid from 1577. The hymn was beloved and used by Buxtehude, Schütz and Bach in his St. John's Passion.


LINKS

English, Concordia Publishing House


Bach’s setting BWV 340


the last stanza of the hymn in Bach's St. John's Passion


Buxtehude’s Cantata on the hymn/lovely BuxWV 41










86 views0 comments
bottom of page