Sunday, 20 December 2015

The world's greatest hymn :'My High Tower' by Paul Gerhardt

It is true that I love great hymns, and among them, I believe Charles and John Wesley have written most of the greatest. However, there is one hymn that I think I would hail even greater than any of the Wesley's, and that I offer to you now. It was originally written by the Lutheran Pastor Paul Gerhardt, who by any stretch of the imagination you could not say he enjoyed a comfortable life. It was later translated by the author Frances Bevan. The hymn is based on Psalm 62 and Romans 8, so if you are familiar with those passages you will recognise their spirit and content within the verses. The hymn is a powerful confession of faith in the midst of trouble and tribulation, and as I wrote before, Gerhardt was no ivory tower theologian and no stranger to family bereavement. I first came across the hymn in the 1970's when as a teenager I  attended a fellowship  where we sang many great old hymns put to guitar music. I hope you will find the words a blessing as they have been to me these many years. AK

Is God for me? I fear not, though all against me rise;

I call on Christ my Saviour, the host of evil flies.

My friend the Lord Almighty, and He who loves me, God,

What enemy shall harm me, though coming as a flood?

I know it, I believe it, I say it fearlessly,

That God, the Highest, Mightiest, for ever loveth me;

At all times, in all places, He standeth at my side,

He rules the battle fury, the tempest and the tide.

A Rock that stands for ever is Christ my Righteousness,

And there I stand unfearing in everlasting bliss;

No earthly thing is needful to this my life from Heaven,

And nought of love is worthy, save that which Christ has given.

Christ, all my praise and glory, my Light most sweet and fair,

The ship wherein He saileth is scatheless everywhere;

In Him I dare be joyful, a hero in the war,

The judgment of the sinner affrighteth me no more.

There is no condemnation, there is no hell for me,

The torment and the fire my eyes shall never see;

For me there is no sentence, for me has death no stings,

Because the Lord Who saved me shall shield me with His wings.

Above my soul’s dark waters His Spirit hovers still,

He guards me from all sorrow, from terror and from ill;

In me He works and blesses the life-seed He has sown,

From Him I learn the Abba, that prayer of faith alone.

And if in lonely places, a fearful child, I shrink,

He prays the prayers within me I cannot ask or think;

In deep unspoken language, known only to that Love

Who fathoms the heart’s mystery from the Throne of Light above.

His Spirit to my spirit sweet words of comfort saith,

How God the weak one strengthens who leans on Him in faith;

How He hath built a City, of love, and light, and song,

Where the eye at last beholdeth what the heart had loved so long.

And there is mine inheritance, my kingly palace-home;

The leaf may fall and perish, not less the spring will come;

As wind and rain of winter, our earthly sighs and tears,

Till the golden summer dawneth of the endless Year of years.

The world may pass and perish, Thou, God, wilt not remove—

No hatred of all devils can part me from Thy Love;

No hungering nor thirsting, no poverty nor care,

No wrath of mighty princes can reach my shelter there.

No Angel, and no Heaven, no throne, nor power, nor might,

No love, no tribulation, no danger, fear, nor fight,

No height, no depth, no creature that has been or can be,

Can drive me from Thy bosom, can sever me from Thee.

My heart in joy upleapeth, grief cannot linger there—

While singing high in glory amidst the sunshine fair;

The source of all my singing is high in Heaven above;

The Sun that shines upon me is Jesus and His Love.

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