Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dearest Jesus, We Are Here

Here is another hymn for the Common time. This hymn marks the 50th post for this blog! I pray that this blog continues to grow, and will continue to reach new people each and every day! Thank you all for your support in my continuation of this project!

Title: Dearest Jesus, We are Here

Tune: Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier


Author: Benjamin Schmolck (21st December, 1672- 12th February, 1737), Trans: Catherine Winkworth (13th September, 1827- 1st July, 1878)

Composer: Johann R. Ahle

          This is a hymn that is chalked full of history, and has a few connections to the ever-famous J.S. Bach. It seems like most hymns written before Bach was born somehow make their way to the composer, but perhaps that is why he is so well known. “Dearest Jesus, We are Here,” was first published in Benjamin Schmolck's Heilige Flammen der himmlisch-gesinnten Seele (Striegau, now Strzegom, Poland, 1704) along with 49 more of his other hymns. Along with many other hymns, Catherine Winkworth (See “O Lord, How I Meet You”) had a hand in translating six of the seven stanzas (Winkworth omitted the 4th stanza), and publishing them in her Lyra Germanica, the second series, which was published in 1858 (Westermeyer, 2010, p. 265). In the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) this hymn took on serious alterations, leaving out the 4th and 5th stanzas of the original, and also relying on much of Winkworth's translation. The title “Dearest Jesus, We are Here” was translated by Matthias Loy (1828-1915) and was first published in the 1880 hymnal collection Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal. Born the son of a preacher, Benjamin Schmolck began his religious career early in his life.

          Born the son of Martin Schmolk, in Brauchitzchdorf in Selesia, B. Schmolck was allowed to give his first sermon at the age of 16 (Schmolkc's father was the pastor at the church in Brauchitzchdorf). After Schmolck had given his sermon, a Layperson by the name of Nicolaus Heinrich von Haugwitz was so enamored with Schmolck's preaching, that he offered him three hundred thaler (I was unable to find a currency translation to modern day) to study theology. After hearing Schmolck preach for a second time, von Haugwitz increased the amount of Schmolck's scholarship. Schmolck went on to study at the University of Leipzig, where he was heavily influenced by teachers such as Johann Olearius (See “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People”). In 1697, during his last year of study at the University of Leipzig, Schmolck supported himself by selling some of his poetry to wealthy patrons in the town, helping to spread his reputation as a poet. Finally, after finishing his studies, Schmolck returned to Brauchitzchdorf in 1701, was ordained, and served as an assistant to his father. In 1702, he married a women named Anna Rosina Rehwald, and moved to Friedenskirche at Schweidnitz, where he would remain for the rest of his life. After the Thirty Years' war, the area of Schweidnitz had been named a predominately Catholic area, making it very difficult for Schmolck to build a church.

          Because of the Catholic rule at the time, Schmolck, as well as two other clergymen, were forced to hold services for nearly 36 different villages in one small church that was outside of the city walls. During this time, the churches were operating under strict rules by the Catholic church, including a rule that said no pastor was able to offer communion to an ill person, unless they consulted one of the local Roman Catholic Priests first. Over the last years of his life, Schmolck worked hard, holding several positions in the church, including Pastor Primarius (he was named to this position in 1714). Because of his hard work, Schmolck suffered a stroke of paralysis in 1730, which is speculated to have been caused by exhaustion. Though he was able to go back to work as an officiant, Schmolck never was able to regain the use of his right hand again. After preaching for five more years after his paralysis, Schmolck gave his last sermon in 1735. He suffered two more strokes of paralysis, as well as a cataract over the last few years of his life. For a time, Schmolck recovered somewhat from his cataracts thanks to a successful surgery, but when it returned, he was not able to recover. Schmolck was finally condemned to spend the rest of his life on bed rest, until finally he was given a note of release on 12th February, 1737, which was the day of his anniversary, as well as the day of his death.

          The tune “Liebster Jesu, Wir Sind Hier” holds some interesting history. The tune itself is often associated with Tobias Clausnitzer's sermon hymn “Dearest Jesus, at Your Word,” which was written nearly nine years before Schmolck was even born. The tune written by Johann R. Ahle, was originally published with an Advent hymn written by Franz Joachim Burmeister, in Ahle's Neue geistliche, auf die Sonntage durch's gantze Jahr gerichtete (Muhlhausen, 1664). Johann Rudolph Ahle is not your typical hymn composer. In his lifetime, Ahle served as a musician, as well as a mayor. Born in Muhlhausen, Ahle would go on to study at Goettingen, and Erfurt (Westermeyer, 267). Ahle studied theology at the University of Erfurt, but he also served as the Cantor of St. Andreas Church as well as in it's elementary school. Ahle is known for having written a manual for better choral singing as well as being an organist. In 1650, Ahle was married, and in 1654, he became the organist at St. Blasius Church in Muhlhausen. The following year, Ahle was elected as a member of the city council, and in 1661, he was elected mayor of Muhlhausen. Ahle would hold both of these positions until his death in 1673 (Schmolck was only a year old at the time). After Ahle's death, his son, Johann Georg Ahle (1651-1706) became organist at Muhlhausen, and after J.G. Ahle's death, J.S. Bach held the position for only one short year (1707-1708).

The Text:

     (1) Blessed Jesus, here we stand,
Met to do as Thou hast spoken,
And this child at Thy command
Now we bring to Thee, in token
That to Christ it here is given,
For of such shall be His Heaven.

     (2) Yes, Thy warning voice is plain,
And we fain would keep it duly,
"He who is not born again,
Heart and life renewing truly,
Born of water and the Spirit,
Will My kingdom ne'er inherit."

     (3) Therefore hasten we to Thee,
Take the pledge we bring, oh take it!
Let us here Thy glory see,
And in tender pity make it
Now Thy child, and leave it never--
Thine on earth, and Thine for ever.

     (4) Turn the darkness into light,
To Thy grace receive and save it;
Heal the serpent's venom'd bite,
In the font where now we lave it;
Let Thy Spirit pure and lowly
Banish thought or taint unholy.

     (5) Make it, Head, Thy member now,
Shepherd, take Thy lamb and feed it,
Prince of Peace, its peace be Thou,
Way of life, to Heaven oh lead it,
Vine, this branch may nothing sever,
Grafted firm in Thee for ever.
Now upon Thy heart it lies,
What our hearts so dearly treasure,
  1. Heavenward lead our burden'd sighs,
    Pour Thy blessing without measure,
    Write the name we now have given,
    Write it in the book of Heaven.

My Take on the Hymn:

          One of the most important rites as a Christian, is that of Baptism. The Baptism is a way of bringing us into the light of Christ, and symbolizes a rebirth, or even a birth into Christ. At the time of Baptism, we are washed clean and given a new start. In the second stanza, we see “Born of water and the Spirit, Will My kingdom ne'er inherit." This is in reference to John 3:5, because unless we are washed clean with water, and born of the spirit, we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Though there is a lot of theological debate surrounding baptism, I would prefer to stay on the side of what baptism means as an adult. As a Christian who has been baptized, we are reminded daily that we are washed clean, and our spirit has been sealed by the sign of the cross, given on us by water. The imagery presented by water fits in to the imagery of what God truly is. Water can bring life, it refreshes us when we need it, it cleans us when we need it, and it can provide some good old-fashioned fun, but water can also be very dangerous, and can be seen as wrathful. By being born of water, we are born clean, and by being born of the spirit, we will always be cleansed with the water from the river of life that descends from Christ's throne in Revelations. Baptism does not necessarily open the door to Christ, but it acts as a door stop that will always hold the door open for us, so that if/when we leave God, we will always be welcomed back, because we have been given life through baptism!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video, and follow along!


Julian, John. "Blessed Jesus, Here We Stand." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 29 July 2013.

Julian, John. "Benjamin Schmolck." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 29 July 2013.

Julian, John. "Catherine Winkworth." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 29 July 2013.

Julian, John. "LIEBSTER JESU." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 29 July 2013.

Westermeyer, Paul. "Holy Baptism." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 265-67. Print.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Now the Day is Over

Here is another hymn for the common times!

Title: Now the Day is Over

Tune: Merrial


Composer: Joseph Barnby (12th August, 1838- 28th January. 1896)

Author: Sabine Baring-Gould ( 18th January, 1834- 2nd January, 1924)

         “Now the Day is Over” was originally written for the children of Horbury Bridge when the author, Sabine Baring-Gould, was serving as the Curate for the parish. With some comparison, the this hymn could have been inspired by J.M. Neale (See “O Come, OCome, Emmanuel”) “The Day is Past and Over.” “Now the Day is Over” was originally published in The Church Times in February of 1867, and was also included in the Appendix for Hymns Ancient and Modern, which was published in 1868 (Westermeyer, 2010, p. 406). Sabine Baring-Gould was the oldest son of Edward Baring-Gould, was born in Exeter, England, and was educated at Clare College, Cambridge (BA, 1854; MA, 1856). S. Baring-Gould was born on a large estate, in which he would later inherit from his father (Westermeyer, p. 37), and spent a good amount of time traveling through Germany and France. In 1864, S. Baring-Gould took holy orders, becoming the Curate of Horbury. S. Baring-Gould held this position until 1867, when he left Horbury and was preferred to the incumbency of Dalton, Yorks (John Julian, 1907 Dictionary of Hymnology). In 1871, S. Baring-Gould became rector of East Mersea, Essex, and in 1881 he finally settled in as rector of Lew Trenchard, Devon, the Estate which inherited. S. Baring-Gould has numerous works, some of which include hymns for children, Lives of the Saints (15 vols. 1872-1877), and The People's Hymnal (1867). S. Baring-Gould did eventually marry a woman outside of his aristocracy, a mill hand named Grace Taylor (Westermeyer, p. 37). The two had a good marriage, and gave birth to fifteen children.

         The tune “Merrial” has some interesting beginnings to how it was named. This tune is one of the few that was actually written solely for the the text. “Merrial” written in 1868 and made it's first appearance in Joseph Barnby's own publication Tunes to Popular Hymns, for Use in Church and Home (1869), where it appeared without a name. Robert McCutchan (a notable Hymnologist) has said that Charles S. Robinson (a composer of hymn tunes) enjoyed this tune so much that he included it in his own publication Spiritual Songs (New York, 1878), and named the tune “EMMALAR” after his daughters initials, “M.L.R.” Eventually, Robinson changed the name of the tune to “Merrial” for his daughters name, “Mary L.” For more information on Joseph Barnby, See “Jesus My Lord, My God, My All.”

The Text:

  1. Now the day is over,
        Night is drawing nigh;
        Shadows of the evening
        Steal across the sky.

 2. Now the darkness gathers,
        Stars begin to peep,
        Birds and beasts and flowers
        Soon will be asleep.

 3. Jesus, give the weary
        Calm and sweet repose;
        With Thy tend'rest blessing
        May mine eyelids close.

 4. Grant to little children
        Visions bright of Thee;
        Guard the sailors tossing
        On the deep-blue sea.

 5. Comfort every sufferer
        Watching late in pain;
        Those who plan some evil
        From their sin restrain.

 6. Through the long night-watches
        May Thine angels spread
        Their white wings above me,
        Watching round my bed.

 7. When the morning wakens,
        Then may I arise
        Pure and fresh and sinless
        In Thy holy eyes.

 8. Glory to the Father,
        Glory to the Son,
        And to Thee, blest Spirit,
        While all ages run.

My Take on the Hymn:
 This hymn is very interesting to me. The text follows a story throughout the whole text, not just in each verse, like we can find in many other hymns. Taken skin deep, this hymn can be seen as a lullaby for children, or even for someone who is saying evening prayers. This hymn is asking for God to help the voice of the text through the night, keeping them safe and allowing them to wake early in the morning to do good works. Now, if we were to delve deeper into the text, because the hymn is found in the “Evening” portion of the hymnal, it could be referring to when times are getting dark. Each and every line in this tune is either asking God to protect us, or it is praising God for the works that he does to protect us. In our darkest times, it is important that we turn to God and ask him for help, and to ask him to send his angels to watch over us when we may not know what is going to come next. Though I do appreciate seeing this text in a deeper sense, when I compare the tune with the text, it seems more like the child-like, lullaby-ish hymn. Most childrens tunes tend to start on the fifth scale degree (for those of you who would rather use solfege, that is “Sol”), and usually bases most of the tune between the fifth scale degree, and the third scale degree (“Sol,” and “Mi”). The tune “Merrial” tends to stay in the higher register of the singer, starting on the fifth (“Sol”) and does not sink bellow it.

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video and follow along!

Julian, John. "Now the Day Is over." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 24 July 2013. 

Julian, John. "S. Baring-Gould." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 24 July 2013.

Unknown. "MERRIAL (Barnby)." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 24 July 2013. 

Unknown. "Joseph Barnby." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 24 July 2013. 

Westermeyer, Paul. "Evening." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 37+. Print. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Peace Like a River

Here is another hymn! It is hard to believe, but it has already been a year since this whole idea began. I am thankful for everyone of you who have taken the time to read these posts! Thank you so much for your support. This blog has grown beyond what I could have expected it to, and I hope and pray that it will continue to grow! God is good!

Title: When Peace Like a River

Tune: Ville du Havre

Meter: with refrain

Composer: Phillip Bliss (9th July, 1838- 29th December, 1876)

Author: Horatio G. Spafford (20th October, 1828-16th October 1888)

The hymn “When Peace Like a River” is one that is shrouded with tragedy and dark times, but the every present reminder within the text helps the congregation to remember that God will take care of us. Originally published in 1876, this hymn has been published with the tune “Ville du Havre,” composed by Phillip Bliss almost exclusively. The hymn made its first debut in Gospel Hymns No. 2 which was compiled by Ira Sankey and Phillip Bliss, both who were good family friends with Horatio Spafford. The origin of this hymn dates only three years prior to the actual publication of it, and shows us that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and sometimes, tragedy can strike when we least expect it.

Horatio Spafford was born in New York, but would eventually move to Chicago in 1856. While he was in Chicago, Spafford became a Lawyer and professor of medical Jurisprudence at Lind University, which is better known today as Chicago Medical College (Westermeyer, 2010, p. 651.) Though he was busy with his day job, Spafford made sure that he was an active Presbyterian Lay person. Spafford taught Sunday school, was a director and trustee for the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and was also an employee for the YMCA. As Spafford's life moved forward, he would soon see his fair share of tragedies. Prior to 1871, Spafford had placed all of his money and more in real estate in the area of what is now known as Lincoln Park off of the shore of Lake Michigan. Of course, in 1871, the Great Chicago fire wiped out all of his investment, leaving him with little money. Shortly after the fire, in 1873, Spafford was advised by doctors that he take his family over to Europe to benefit the health of his wife (Spafford's wife born in Norway in 1842, and came with her family to Chicago when she was four, and Minnesota when she was seven). Only a short time before his departure, Spafford was called away on some pressing business, and sent his wife and his four daughters ahead of him, as scheduled. The liner that the family was on, the Ville Du Havre, was hit bu a British ship. The Lochearn, on November 22nd, 1873, and it took only twelve short minutes for the entire ship to be sunk. All four of Spafford's daughters died in the accident, but his wife was spared.

After this tragedy, Spafford and his wife gave birth to three more children, a daughter, Bertha, a son, Horatio and another daughter Grace (1881). Horatio was born in 1876, and Bertha, in 1878, but both children contracted scarlet fever. Bertha was able to survive the fever, but Horatio was not able to. Bertha is responsible for the retelling of several of Spafford's stories. The story of where this text comes from is proof that God exists, and that he has a hand in all of our lives. While traveling over to Europe to meet his wife, Spafford is said to have penned the text near to the spot where the accident had happened, and his four daughters had perished. After having dealt with such tragedy, life didn't seem to get any better for Spafford. After returning to his Church, Spafford ran into troubles with his own congregation. In one of the weaker moments of the church, Spafford's own congregation denied him. The first misunderstanding came when a member of an evangelical group came to meet with the Spaffords in their own house, and offered to adopt Bertha, opening a wound in the family. From this first incident, the family began planning a move to Jerusalem. After planning a move, the misunderstanding continued for Spafford. Spafford “shocked the complacent” when he said that he could not believe that babies were consigned to hell (Westermeyer, p. 652). After the newspaper got a hold of this story, the Spaffords were asked to leave the congregation of the Fulerton Avenue Presbyterian Church, the church that Spafford had helped build, where he was an elder, the church in which many of the Spafford's were baptized in as well. Shortly after Spafford's daughter, Grace, was born, the family left for Jerusalem and formed an “American Colony” (Westermeyer, p. 652). The story of the families adventures in Jerusalem were told by Bertha in her book Our Jerusalem, which shows that she had spent quite a bit of time in Jerusalem acting as a “modern Florence Nightingale” (Westermeyer, p. 652).

The tune, “Ville du Havre” is a rather emotional tune, and has several challenges within it. Though the tune has many good qualities, it is not often sang as a congregation, but has rather been taken on as a wonderful setting for choral singing. Though the tune is named after the liner that sank and killed most of Spafford's family, it is also often refereed to as “It is Well,” named after the text. Born in a log cabin in Pennsylvania, Phillip Bliss grew up working on farms and in lumber camps. When he was only twelve years old, Bliss entered in the Baptist church. Eventually, Bliss would marry Lucy J. Young, and worked for her father for a year after he and his wife were first married. Later, after having received training from J.G. Towner and William B. Bradbury, Bliss became an itinerant singing school teacher with a horse and melodeon, in 1860. From that point, for a few summers, Bliss attended the Normal Academy of Music in Geneseo New York, which would eventually lead him to move to Chicago, where he worked with the musician, Doctor George F. Boot, composing Sunday school songs. Bliss published many of his works under the Root and Cady music Company in Chicago, and in 1870, he finally began composing on his own, and was the director of the choir at First Congregational Church in Chicago. In 1874, Bliss joined Major D.W. Whittle as a singing evangelist (Westermeyer, p. 653). In the middle of his career, and in the same year in which this tune was composed, Bliss died in an unfortunate train accident. Both he and his wife were traveling by train through Ohio, when the bridge in Ashtabula collapsed, causing the train to fall nearly seventy feet. It is said that Bliss survived the crash, but was killed when he want back to try and save his wife.

The Text:

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    when sorrows like sea billows roll;
    whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    It is well with my soul,
    it is well, it is well with my soul.

    (2) Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    let this blest assurance control,
    that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

    (3) My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

    (4) And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    even so, it is well with my soul.

My Take on the Hymn:

This hymn is a beautiful hymn for when you are in times of struggle. The text is so reverent to the mercies of Christ, and always reminds us, in every verse, that God and Christ are always with you, and no matter what is happening on earth, give it up to God, and it will be well with your soul. Our lives are riddled with tragedy, whether it be something as small as being late for work, or something as distressing as a loved one passing away. It is no doubt that we are given trials each and every day, but it is important that we keep our love pointed towards God, and that we can let the world pass away to us, and know that God will keep our souls safe and well. If you are looking for a good read about tragedy, and the journey to overcoming grief, I would highly recommend reading C.S. Lewis's “A Grief Observed.” In the book, he makes a good point, that if we keep focused on God, everything will be okay. In times of grief, it is easy to forget that we have someone who has already bore our grief on the cross. Stanza three reminds us that Christ was nailed to the cross so that he would take away our sins and our strife. The last stanza is also important, because even though we suffer daily, when it is our time to go home, God will tear open the skies like a scroll, and the trumpets shall sound and we shall no longer suffer (Rev. 6: 14)!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video, and follow along!


Psalter, Hymnal Handbook. "When Peace, Like a River." Calving Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 10 July 2013.

"VILLE DU HAVRE." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 10 July 2013.

Julian, John. "Phillip Paul Bliss." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 10 July 2013.

Westermeyer, Paul. "Trust, Guidance." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 651-53. Print. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

If You But Trust in God to Guide You

Here is another wonderful hymn during the long season of Common time!

Title: If You But Trust in God to Guide You

Tune: Wer Nur Den Lieben Gott (Neumark)


Author: Georg Neumark (16th March, 1621-18th July 1681), Translater: Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)

Composer: Georg Neumark (")

The thirty-Years War raged on from 1618-1648, and was known as one of the longest and most devastating wars in modern history. Though those thirty years were extremely tragic and gruesome, many of our hymns that we know today were composed during that time. Some of the more famous authors included Paul Gerhardt (See “Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded”), and Johann Heerman (see “Ah, Holy Jesus”), and the author of this hymn, Georg Neumark. The story of Neumark is one of great tradgedy and strife, and it is no wonder that his writing can be found in the “Trust, Guidance” section of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship. The road that led Neumark to penning this hymn came with him getting robbed, not being able to find work, and life generally not going according to plan, as was the case for many different hymn-writers in this time period.

Born in 1621 to Michael Neumark, a cloth and clothes salesman, Georg Neumark grew up in Thuringa (After 1623 at Mihlhausen in Thuringa) (, Georg Neumark, Par. 1). After being educated at the Gymnasium in Schleueingen and at the Gymnasium in Gotha, Neumark received his certificate of Dimissal from the Gymnasium at Gotha in 1641. After receiving the certificate, Neumark made plans to matriculate to the University of Konisberg, where he would go to begin studying law. Although he did eventually make it to the university to study law, Neumar's life would be taken on a detour first.

In the fall of 1641, Neumark was traveling with a group between Leipzig, Germany, and Lubeck, Germany. On his journey, just outside of Magdeburg, Neumark was robbed of everything he owned, except for a prayer book, and what little money he had sewed in his clothes (Westermeyer, 2010, p. 632). After having to deal with being robbed, Neumark abandoned his plans to go attend the University of Konigsberg, and went back to Magdeburg to look for work, in which he was unsuccessful in finding a job. After Neumark left Magdeburg, he moved on to try and find work in Luneberg, Winsen, and Hamburg (Neumark was recommended to look in these towns by his friends he had made along the way), but was still unable to find any sort of work. As December of that year finally came around, Neumark was still without work and was willing to do anything for work. Eventually, Neumark moved on to Kiel, where he became good friends with Nikolaus Becker, who was a native of Thuringa, and was chief pastor in Kiel (, par. 1). Though he had finally found good prospects for work, almost the entire month had elapsed with out any news of work for Neumark.

Finally, towards the end of December, 1641, Neumark received news from Becker, that the family tutor for Judge Stephen Henning had fallen into disgrace, and had thus fled from Kiel. Neumark was offered the job, and immediately accepted, filling the vacant position and giving him the opportunity to pen the hymn “If You But Trust in God to Guide You.” After staying with the family long enough to save some money, Neumark left in 1643 and matriculated with the University of Konigsberg, where he was finally able to study Law and poetry for five years. Life seemed to be looking up for Neumark, as he had finally made it to his original destination, and was accomplishing what he had originally set out to do, study law. Though things had finally begun to settle down for Neumark, he would eventually lose all of his belongings once again, in 1646, this time to fire.

Eventually, in 1648 (the year the Thirty-Years war ended), Neumark departed from Konigsberg, bouncing around from place to place until he finally settled in Weimar in 1651, where he was appointed court poet, secretary, and librarian for Duke Wilhelm II of Saxe-Weimar (Westermeyer, p. 633). It was during his time in Weimar that Neumark was inducted into a group named the Fruit-Bearing Society (Die Fruichtbringende Gesellschaft) Which at the time was known as the primary German vernacular literary and scholarly group (formed in 1617). After being inducted into the group, Neumark became secretary, and would eventually write the history of the group (Der Neu-Sprossende Teutsche Palmbaum, N├╝rnberg and Weimar, 1668). In 1681, Neumark became blind, but was still allowed to hold his positions with the Fruit-Bearing Society and the Pegnitz Order (Neumark became a member of the Pegnitz Order in 1679). In 1681, Neumark wrote of his chance encounter to work with Judge Henning:

This good fortune, which came so suddenly and, as if fallen from heaven, gladdened my heart so that on that very day I composed to the honor of my beloved Lord the here-and-there well-known hymn 'Wer Nur Den Lieben Gott Lasst Walten'; and had certain cause enough to thank the divine compassion for such unexpected grace shown to me” (Westermeyer, p. 632).

Though Neumark had written the hymn, as well as the tune, in 1641, it was not published until over fifteen years later. The original publishing of the hymn was done in seven stanzas, and was published in Neumarks own Fortgepflantzter Musikalisch-Poetischer Lustwald (Jena, 1657). Neumark captioned the hymn “Hymn of Consolation. That in God's own time God will sustain and keep each person according to the text, Cast your burden on the Lord, who will sustain you” (Westermeyer, p. 633). The text that Neumark is referring to is the a quotation from Psalm 55:23, but has also been suggested to be a quotation from 1 Peter 3: 8-15, which is the epistle that is traditionally read the fifth Sunday after Trinity. In the 18th century, J.S. Bach used all seven stanza's of Neumark's hymn for his Cantata 93, which was performed the fifth Sunday after Trinity.

Though there was no way of knowing just how popular “If You But Trust in God to Guide You” would become, Neumark was correct in saying that his tune was already somewhat well-known. This hymn was included in many different German hymnals, and was widely used among Lutherans and German Reformed. Catherine Winkworth (See “O, Lord How I Meet Thee”) translated this hymn into her Lyrica Germanica, first series (1855), and then again in her Choral Book for England (1863) in it's original meter, so it could be sung with the original tune (Westermeyer, 633). The hymn became widely used in the English-speaking world, being introduced to Lutheran's in North America through Winkworth's translation in August Crull's Hymn Book for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Schools and Congregations (Decorah, 1879). Though Crull included all seven stanzas in his publication, most 20th century hymnals narrowed it down to only four stanzas, and sometimes, outside of the Lutheran hymnals, even two or three stanzas. Evangelical Lutheran Worship includes four stanzas, stanzas 1, 2, 3, and 7 (Westermeyer, p. 633).

The Text:

  1. If you but trust in God to guide you
    and place your confidence in him,
    you'll find him always there beside you
    to give you hope and strength within;
    for those who trust God's changeless love
    build on the rock that will not move.

  1. Only be still and wait his pleasure
    in cheerful hope with heart content.
    He fills your needs to fullest measure
    with what discerning love has sent;
    doubt not our inmost wants are known
    to him who chose us for his own.

  1. Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving,
    offer your service faithfully,
    and trust his word; though undeserving,
    you'll find his promise true to be.
    God never will forsake in need
    the soul that trusts in him indeed. 

My Take on the Hymn:

This hymn is very straight forward, trust in God, and all will be well. Though we do not deserve it sometimes, and even though we have fallen, God loves us unconditionally, and he loves us enough to take care of us no matter what, if only we believe in Him. Sometimes, as was the case with Neumark, God's promises seem to take an eternity to be fulfilled, but we must take note that many of our wants and desires are earthly, and God will reward us with gifts in Heaven. As we journey through life, and as we move forward with our journey through faith, we will run into trials, strife, struggle, and misfortune, but if we only place our trust in God, if we see Him every day as our rock and our strength, and our only way to salvation, He will carry us through each and every day with unwavering love!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video and follow along!


Julian, John. "If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 02 July 2013.

Julian, John. "Catherine Winkworth." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 02 July 2013.

Julian, John. "Georg Neumark." - Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 02 July 2013.

Psalter, Hymnal Handbook. "NEUMARK." Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 02 July 2013.

Westermeyer, Paul. "Trust, Guidance." Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Vol. 1. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010. 632-34. Print.