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Christian Singers Of Germany by Catherine Winkworth



Unbegreiflich Gut, wahrer Gott alleine

Joachim Neander

trans. by Catherine Winkworth, 1869

O Thou true God alone,

Thou Good no creature-soul can comprehend,

Thou great and Holy One,

The Lord of Hosts most strong,

To Thee I raise my song,

Thou art the Lord, whose wonders never end!

A deep and holy awe

Put Thou, my God, within my inmost soul,

While near Thy feet I draw,

And my heart sings in me,

And my voice praises Thee;

Do Thou all wandering sense and thought control.

Let all things join with me

To tell Thy praises and Thy fame abroad;

Let earth and sky and sea,

With voices pure and clear,

Resounding far and near,

Proclaim how great the glory of the Lord!

O God, the crystal light

Of Thy most stainless sunshine here is mine,

It floods my outer sight;

Ah let me well discern

Thyself where'er I turn,

And see Thy power through all Thy creatures' shine.

Lo, how the cloudless dome

Like to a clear and dazzling mirror gleams,

Of light the very home;

O Thou, transform my heart,

Till pure in every part

It mirrors back undimmed Thy golden beams.

Hark, how the air is sweet

With music from a thousand warbling throats,

Which Echo doth repeat;

To Thee I also sing,

Keep me beneath Thy wing,

Disdain not Thou to list my harsher notes.

Ah! Lord, the universe

Is bright and laughing, full of pomp and mirth;

Each summer doth rehearse

A tale for ever new,

Of wonders Thou canst do

In sunny skies and on the fruitful earth.

Thee all the mountains praise,

The rocks and glens are full of song to Thee;

They bid me join my lays

And laud the Almighty Rock,

Who safe from every shock

Beneath Thy shadow here dost shelter me.

I hear the waters rush

Far down beneath me in the hidden glen,

They break the quiet hush,

And quicken all my mind

With keen desire to find

The Fountain whence all gladness flows to men.

How various and how fair

I find Thy works where'er I turn my sight;

Beauty is everywhere

Without or stint or bound,

And Wonder all around;

Would that all hearts would ponder this aright!

Wisdom hath made them all,

Its order reigns through all these wondrous things!

Earth's brightness doth recall

Thy brighter Love to mind,

So endless and so kind;

Sing, O my soul, as now all nature sings.

In 1679 he as called to the very church in Bremen which he had once entered in mockery, but he only preached there one year; he died at Easter, 1680, not quite forty years old. Neander's style is unequal; occasional harshnesses contrast with very musical lines, but there is a glow, a sweetness, and a depth about his hymns which have made many of them justly and lastingly popular among the German people.

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