HYMN 9 Entrust, While on your Journey
German: Befiehl du deine Wege Psalm 37 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 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!