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HYMN FOR SUMMER Go Forth, My Heart, This Summer Day

Text: Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676). Tune: August Harder (1775-1813) or Nathan Söderblom (1866-1931)

(This is a repeat, but I thought it perfect for the summer days we are living through just now. At present I am at Mt. Carmel preparing for a week of lectures.)

Paul Gerhardt Painting above the baptistry in Lübben church

1. Go forth, my heart, this summer day

Go forth and seek your joyful way

With thanks for all these pleasures!

See, all around the earth is new,

God has adorned the world for you.

//With wonderful green treasures//

2. The trees are covered now with leaves

The dust of earth is swathed in green,

A lovely robe of color.

The tulip and narcissus rare

Are dressed in clothes beyond compare,

//Past Solomon's great splendor.//

3. The lark flies up into the breeze,

The dove takes flight above the trees

Within the woodsy byway.

The highly gifted nightingale

Breaks forth in song in hill and dale,

//Through all of the fields and highways.//

4. The hen leads all her young brood out,

The stork builds up a sturdy house,

The swallow feeds her birdlings

The mighty stag, the gentle doe

Come down to where green pastures grow

//Upon the verdant meadow.//

5. The brook is bubbling through the sand

And paints its portrait with its hand

Of richly shadowed myrtle.

The meadow lying by its side

Rings joyfully with happy cries

//To sheep from their good shepherd.//

6. The humming, buzzing swarms of bees

Fly here and there, to find their feast

Of sweets to make their honey.

And the sweet grapes with stronger juice

Bring daily new strength from their roots

//To fuel their drunken journey.//

7. The corn springs up, a wealth untold, A sight to gladden young and old, Their voices gladly lifting To Him who gives such plenteous store, And makes the cup of life run o'er //With many riches giving.//

8. Your mighty working, mighty God, Wakes all my powers; I look abroad And cannot rest much longer: I too must sing when all things sing, And from my heart the praises ring //For God whose love is strongest.//

9. I think how great my blessings are

Which you so lovingly impart

Upon your great creation,

And how much greater blessings wait

Above in heaven's rich estate,

//Where golden tow'rs await us.//

10. What thrilling joy when on our sight Christ's garden beams in cloudless light, Where all the air is sweetest; Still laden with th' unwearied hymn From all the thousand seraphim //With God's high praise repeatingt!//

11. Oh were I there! Oh that I now, Dear God, before your throne could bow, And bear my palms in heaven! Then like the angels would I raise My voice, and sing your endless praise //The greatest anthems singing.//

12. Nor can I now, O God, forbear, Though still this mortal yoke I wear, To speak your name in glory; But still my heart is wont to speak Your praises; still, though poor and weak, //I love to tell your story.//

13. But help me; let your heavenly show'rs Revive and bless my fainting pow'rs, And let me thrive and flourish Beneath the summer of your grace, And fruits of faith bud forth apace //Which dwelling here I'll cherish.//

14. O Holy Spirit, dwell in me So I become a living tree With roots so deeply grounded. O grant that I will sing your praise And bear rich fruit through all my days //By all your love surrounded,// 15. And set me, Lord, in Paradise When I have bloomed beneath these skies Till my last leaf is faded; Thus let me serve you here in time, And after, in that heav'n sublime, //To serve you unabated.// Tr. Gracia Grindal with apologies to Catherine Winkworth!


Paul Gerhardt Church Lübben Germany

May, 2007. It was the year of Paul Gerhardt’s 400th birthday. A tour group from Mount Carmel Ministries in Alexandria, Minnesota, had just arrived at the church where Gerhardt had served in Lübben, Germany. I had prepared a small collection of Gerhardt's hymns in English to sing. "Go forth, My Heart," was one. I chose the Swedish tune, rather than the German one. It would work better with the largely Scandinavian American group, I thought.

We gathered in the sanctuary and began singing. "No, No,” the pastor of the church cried out. “That is not the right tune! Here is ours.” He began singing the sprightly 19th century tune by August Harder. We had to agree it was livelier than the Swedish tune.

The Scandinavian versions cut about half of the stanzas--fifteen stanzas is rather long--but they do contain the main point of Gerhardt’s text. (The popular German selection of four stanzas makes it into a summer carol, not very theological.) Gerhardt lingers over the beautiful things of creation, the moon, the stars, the weather, the animals, the birds, even the stork (4:2). He pleasures in the beauties of creation and how they sustain us. At stanza 9, he makes the turn. Just think, if this is how beautiful God has made the earth for us, imagine how lovely the kingdom of heaven will be. These beauties are something to be longed for with all our hearts.

The hymn writers we have looked at thus far seem to be taking in more of God’s creation than many of us can bear. For them every good they see shimmers with the grace of God, telling his glory.

We had a wonderful time in Lübben, having a late lunch in a shady glen by the Spree river, laughing and taking our pleasures in the bounties God had provided for us from the land around us. The light dappled through the leaves onto the sparkling stream beside us. Gerhardt’s hymn gave new depths to the riches we were enjoying.

That night I heard from my nephew that his daughter had been born. The first of the next generation. On the way from Lübben we saw a stork building his sturdy nest in a tree above us. The memory still shimmers in my memory. Last month that little girl turned 15. "He makes our cup of life run o'er/His many riches giving."


August Harder worked in Leipzig as a free lance musician. This tune was written for a spring song, “Die Luft ist blau, das Tal ist grün.”

Nathan Söderblom was a Swedish Archbishop and worked tirelessly for ecumenical unity. He did compose several tunes.


German Anke Zohm/Solo with text

Hoffnung Liederschatz Neu Entdeckt

Gotthilf Fischer/Organ and congregation


Stockholm Chamber choir

Anders Widmark Trio

Summer Songs/Åsa Jinder Nykelharpa

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