HYMN 35 Awake, My Heart, with Gladness

German: Auf, auf, mein Herz Matthew 28:1-15 Text: Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) Tune: Johann Crüger (1598-1662) 1. Awake, my heart, with gladness, See what today is done; Now, after gloom and sadness, Comes forth the glorious sun. My Savior there was laid Where our bed must be made When to the realms of light Our spirit wings its flight. 2. The foe in triumph shouted When Christ lay in the tomb; But lo, he now is routed, His boast is turned to gloom. For Christ again is free; In glorious victory He who is strong to save Has triumphed o'er the grave. 3. This is a sight that gladdens-- What peace it doth impart! Now nothing ever saddens The joy within my heart. No gloom shall ever shake, No foe shall ever take The hope which God's own Son In love for me hath won. 4. Now hell, its prince, the devil, Of all their pow'r are shorn; Now I am safe from evil, And sin I laugh to scorn. Grim death with all his might Cannot my soul affright; It is a pow'rless form, Howe'er it rave and storm. 5. The world against me rages, Its fury I disdain; Though bitter war it wages, Its work is all in vain. My heart from care is free, No trouble troubles me. Misfortune now is play, And night is bright as day. 6. Now I will cling forever To Christ, my Savior true; My Lord will leave me never, Whate'er He passes through. He rends death's iron chain; He breaks through sin and pain; He shatters hell's dark thrall; I follow Him through all. 7. He brings me to the portal That leads to bliss untold, Whereon this rhyme immortal Is found in script of gold: "Who there My cross has shared Finds here a crown prepared; Who there with Me has died Shall here be glorified." Tr. John Kelly 1833-1890 MEDITATION We are probably talking to ourselves a lot these days. Not just because we may be isolated, away from others, but because we are in some ways divided between what we know and what we feel. We can talk ourselves into despair, grim resolution or joy, with some success. Most of us do talk to ourselves, whether aloud or silently. I know I do— sometimes fussing with an old memory that upsets me. Sometimes I will even holler, oh, no, or words to that effect. My five-year old great nephew will ask, “What, Gracia?” “Nothing,” I say. Gerhardt uses that convention in this hymn. Speaking to his heart, he encourages it to see everything in the light of the resurrection. Everything is changed. One could imagine in this conversation that Gerhardt is downhearted and depressed for every good reason. He wrote it in 1648, the year that the Thirty Years War ended, an awful time. In the Brandenburg region where Gerhardt was living, scholars estimate over half the population perished. Not only the violence of armies killing and pillaging, but pestilence and plague ravaging the land. By faith in the risen Christ he could say, “Misfortune now is play,/And night is bright as day.” We need words from our Lord to center us and give us peace in difficult times. I remember when we were standing in the emergency room where my father was fighting for his life after a terrible car accident. He had suffered a massive head injury. The doctor said, “You should call a pastor.” Pastor? Dad was our pastor. Then we remembered our good friend, Luthard Gjerde. He came quickly. As he walked into the room, past the curtains and the beeping instruments measuring his vitals, now so frail, he said, “I have one word for you. ‘Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.’” The verse gave us renewed footing in a truth we lived by, but hadn’t seemed to need as we did just then. As a seminary professor, I was stunned. Of course! This is why we teach and preach: the Gospel is the only word that can be spoken in the face of death. The resurrection gives confidence and joy. Talk to yourselves as Gerhardt did. “No gloom shall ever shake,/No foe shall ever take/The hope which God's own Son/In love for me hath won.” HYMN INFO Johann Crüger’s tune for this, musically, rises from the depths into the heights, matching the text very well. Bach used it in one of his settings of Sacred Songs (BWV 441) and it remains a favorite among German Lutherans. Crüger, as organist in the Nikolai church in Berlin, also suffered the ravages of the war, but continued to publish his volume of hymns, Praxis Pietatis Melica, despite the unsettled times. Maybe working on these glorious hymns with Paul Gerhardt in the middle of all the slaughter made what they said ring true. This hymn appeared in the 1648 edition. LINKS Concordia Publishing House version https://youtu.be/7vkwarcV5kI Dresden Vocal https://youtu.be/z2R2bXEzIYc Kirsten Flagstad/ Bach’s setting with the estimable Gerald Moore https://youtu.be/WcnP5lNQrEg

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