The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Heart Longing for the Inner Advent


Words: Gerhardt, 1653.
Trans. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)

See: Christmas Poetry of Catherine Winkworth

Source: Lyra Germanica: Second Series, The Christian Life, 1858

Wherefore dost Thou longer tarry,
    Blessed of the Lord, afar?
Would it were Thy will to enter
    To my heart, O Thou my Star,
Thou my Jesus, Fount of power,
Helper in the needful hour!
Sharpest wounds my heart is feeling,
Touch them, Saviour, with Thy healing!

For I shrink beneath the terrors
    Of the law's tremendous sway;
All my countless crimes and errors
    Stand before me night and day.
Oh the heavy, fearful load
Of the righteous wrath of God!
Oh the awful voice of thunder
Cleaving heart and soul asunder!

While the foe my soul is telling,
    "There is grace no more for thee,
Thou must make thy endless dwelling
    In the pains that torture me."
Yes, and keener still thy smart,
Conscience, in my anguished heart,
By thy venomed tooth tormented,
Long-past sins are sore repented.

Would I then, to soothe my sorrow,
    And my pain awhile forget,
From the world a comfort borrow,
    I but sink the deeper yet,
She hath comforts that but grieve,
Joys that stinging memories leave,
Helpers that my heart are breaking,
Friends that do but mock its aching.

All the world can give is cheating,
    Strengthless all, and merely nought;
Have I greatness, it is fleeting;
    Have I riches, are they aught
But a heap of glittering earth?
Pleasure? Little is it worth
When it brings no joy or laughter
That we shall not rue hereafter.

All delight, all consolation
    Lies in Thee, Lord Jesus Christ,
Feed my soul with Thy salvation,
    O thou Bread of Life unpriced.
Blessed Light, within me glow,
Ere my heart breaks in its woe;
Oh refresh me and uphold me,
Jesus, come, let me behold Thee.

Joy, my soul, for He hath heard thee,
    He will come and enter in;
Lo! He turns and draweth toward thee,
    Let thy welcome-song being;
Oh prepare thee for such guest,
Give thee wholly to thee rest,
With an open'd heart adore Him,
Pour thy griefs and fears before Him.

Thy misdeeds are thine no longer,
    He hath cast them in the sea,
And the love of God shall conquer
All the strength of sin in thee.
Christ is victor in the field,
Mightiest wrong to Him must yield,
He with blessing will exalt thee
O'er whatever would assault thee.

What would seem to hurt or shame thee
    Shall but work thy good at last;
Since that Christ hath deign'd to claim thee,
    And His truth stands ever fast;
And if thine can but endure,
There is nought so fixed and sure,
As that thou shalt hymn His praises
In the happy heavenly places.

Note: "The hymns in this series have been chosen from various sources, most of them being such as would be found in any standard collection. The greater number, however, are taken from [Christian Karl Josias] Bunsen's 'Versuch eines allgemeinen Gesang und Gebet buchs'  [1833]..."

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