06 June 2008

Oh, Jesus Christ! How Bright and Fair

Wie schön ists doch, Herr Jesu Christ, by Paul Gerhardt
translated by John Kelly; modestly altered by Matthew Carver (2008)

1. Oh, Jesus Christ! How bright and fair
The marriage of Your children where
Your blessings rich attend them!
What gracious gifts You here bestow,
What streams from Heaven ever flow
In blessings which You send them,
Grant, they
True stay
To You ever
Lord! Leave never
These two, vowing,
With one heart before You bowing.

2. When man and wife are married well,
And peacefully before You dwell,
In faithfulness united,
The streams of bliss will strongly flow
And we Your children here below
Like angels be delighted;
No rain,
No pain,
Can destroy it
Or annoy it—
What You've given
To the pair that hopes in Heaven.

3. To man and wife, O, grant your grace
And in this holy, blessed place
And from Your throne in Heaven
With loving arms protect them, Lord,
And daily keep them in Your ward
And nightly angels send them.
Though we
Must be
Hither, thither
Roaming ever
Till You give us
Pious homes and thus relieve us.

4. The man is like a mighty tree
Whose branches spread so fair and free;
The wife a vine life-bearing
She yields her fruit in holy love
And blest by grace from God above
The family she is rearing.
Man's crown!
Husband's treasure!
House's pleasure!
Jew'l of honor!
On his throne God smiles upon her.

5. O wife! the Lord has chosen you
That from your womb shall life anew
Increase the Church and build it
This wondrous work forever mounts,
The mighty word His lips pronounce:
What here you see, shall yield it
Shall come,
Sons and daughters
To the waters
Of Salvation
Finding grace and good vocation.

6. Be of good cheer, for this decree
Is not a human father's plea:
Our Heav'nly Father gave it,
Who loves us through the coming days
And who, when grief upon us weighs,
Will give us strength to brave it;
Blest end
He'll send,
As we're doing
And pursuing,
Or conceiving,
Wise and happy children giving.

7. A time will come—it cannot fail
For all within this tearful vale—
When tears we will be shedding;
To him who bears it patiently
By God's grace shall his sorrow be
Turned into joy outspreading.
Heart ill
Be still,
Here revealing
Hope and healing,
Christ shall ever
Banish care and soon deliver.

8. Come here then, O Redeemer blest!
In trials guide, in pain give rest,
In anxious times relieving!
To You we will ascribe the praise,
Our hearts and voices we will raise
In songs of loud thanksgiving,
Till we
Shall be
With You dwelling
And fulfilling
Your will ever,
And our song shall falter never.


Allen said...

Dr. Stuckwisch,
Is this text available to use freely? Also, do you know which tune would have originally been used?

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Allen, I believe that, for the time being at least, it should be okay to use the text; so long as proper credit is given to the translators (as indicated above).

Gerhardt deliberately wrote the hymns to accompany Nicolai's great chorale tune, Wie Schon Leuchtet (O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright), because that hymn was already associated with weddings (due to its use on the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, in connection with the Wedding at Cana). Normally, I don't like using familiar tunes with new texts, but, in this case, that was the pointed intention of the author; and it works great.

It was especially nice to sing this hymn at my daughter's wedding last month; because two of her little brothers are named, respectively, after Nicolai and Gerhardt.

Allen said...

Dr. Stuckwisch,

Thank you for the information. It is always nice to have more "choices" to offer for weddings.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Absolutely beautiful. Thank you!