As my friend, Pastor David Petersen, has been stating so well on his blog, Dr. John Kleinig is a great gift to the church. I was privileged to take an intensive STM course from him in January of 1998, and it was the highlight of my year of coursework in that program. When I saw he would speaking at the symposium on Paul Gerhardt last week, I knew I had to go. Kleinig's two presentations alone were worth the trip.
One of the things he shared with us was his translation of Schwing dich auf zu deinem Gott, a magnificent hymn of Gerhardt with which I was entirely unfamiliar. It is seventeen (!) stanzas long; I aim to share with you one stanza per day, to let you bask in the truths each one presents leading you deeper toward his wonderful conclusion. (I learned at this symposium that the Germans wouldn't sing all the stanzas of these long hymns; in fact often, they would only have a corpus of 30-40 hymns for public worship, which the people would sing from memory. I hadn't heard that before, which makes me question the accuracy, but whoever said it was making this point: people used hymns such as this one for devotional purposes, reading and singing them in the home. One of the things I need to do is work at getting the people in my church to sing hymns at home; this is how the faith is truly inculcated.)
Here is stanza one:
Rise, my soul, up high to God
From the pit of sadness!
Why remain down there, depressed?
Why despise his goodness?
Can't you see the devil's tricks,
Scheming to attack you?
He is set to fog and hush
All Christ's words of comfort.