Do bist zwar mein und bleibest mein
Paul Gerhardt, 1650, on the death of a son
(translated by Catherine Winkworth)
Thou'rt mine, yes, still thou art mine own!
Who tells me thou art lost?
But yet thou art not mine alone,
I own that He who cross'd
My hopes, hath greatest right in thee;
Yea, though He ask and take from me
Thee, O my son, my heart's delight,
My wish, my thought, by day and night.
Ah might I wish, ah might I choose,
Then thou, my Star, shouldst live,
And gladly for thy sake I'd lose
All else that life can give.
Oh fain I'd say: Abide with me,
The sunshine of my house to be,
No other joy but this I crave,
To love thee, darling, to my grave!
Thus saith my heart, and means it well,
God meaneth better still;
My love is more than words can tell,
His love is greater still;
I am a father, He the Head
And Crown of fathers, whence is shed
The life and love from which have sprung
All blessed ties in old and young.
I long for thee, my son, my own,
And He who once hath given,
Will have thee now beside His throne,
To live with Him in heaven.
I cry, Alas! my light, my child!
But God hath welcome on him smiled,
And said: "My child, I keep thee near,
For there is nought but gladness here."
Oh blessed word, oh deep decree,
More holy than we think!
With God no grief or woe can be,
No bitter cup to drink,
No sickening hopes, no want or care,
No hurt can ever reach him there;
Yes, in that Father's shelter'd home
I know that sorrow cannot come.
We pass our nights in wakeful thought
For our dear children's sake;
All day our anxious toil hath sought
How best for them to make
A future safe from care or need,
Yet seldom do our schemes succeed;
How rarely does their future prove
What we had plann'd for those we love!
How many a child of promise bright
Ere now hath gone astray,
By ill example taught to slight
And quit Christ's holy way.
Oh fearful the reward is then,
The wrath of God, the scorn of men!
The bitterest tears by mortal shed
Are his, who mourns a child misled.
But now I need not fear for thee,
Where thou art, all is well;
For thou thy Father's Face dost see,
With Jesus thou dost dwell!
Yes, cloudless joys around him shine,
His heart shall never ache like mine,
He sees the radiant armies glow
That keep and guide us here below:
He hears their singing evermore,
His little voice too sings,
He drinks of wisdom deepest lore,
He speaks of secret things,
That we can never see or know
Howe'er we seek or strive below,
While yet amid the mists we stand
That veil this dark and tearful land.
Oh that I could but watch afar,
And hearken but awhile,
To that sweet song that hath no jar,
And see his heavenly smile,
As he doth praise the holy God,
Who made him pure for that abode!
In tears of joy full well I know
This burden'd heart would overflow.
And I should say: Stay there, my son,
My wild laments are o'er,
O well for thee that thou hast won,
I call thee back no more;
But come, thou fiery chariot, come,
And bear me swiftly to that home,
Where he with many a loved one dwells,
And evermore of gladness tells!
Then be it as my Father wills,
I will not weep for thee;
Thou livest, joy thy spirit fills,
Pure sunshine thou dost see,
The sunshine of eternal rest:
Abide, my child, where thou art blest;
I with our friends will onward fare,
And, when God wills, shall find thee there.