November 2021

November 2021

A Hymn for All Saints

As we prepare to observe All Saints’ Day, remembering before God our loved ones who have departed this life and are now with the Lord, I wish to share with you a hymn that was once very meaningful for our predecessors in the Lutheran faith. You can find an abridged version of the hymn in our current hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book, No. 679. What I am providing for you here is a more complete version, with a special addition.

The original hymn, “Oh, How Blest Are Ye,” was written in 1635 by Simon Dach, a tutor and professor who was well acquainted with grief. It is sung from the perspective of those left behind on earth by those who have preceded them to glory through bodily death. Originally the hymn was only six stanzas. In the century following, multiple hymnwriters added answering stanzas from the perspective of the departed, resulting in a dialogue between the saints on earth and the saints in heaven. What I am sharing with you is the dialogue as supplemented by Jacob Baumgarten, who lived 1688–1722. There is also a later set of responses written by a man named Paul Pfeffer in 1737, which was included in our own Missouri Synod’s German hymnal in the nineteenth century, though I do not have a translation available for it.

If you would like to hear the music that goes with this text, I invite you to visit www.lutheranchoralebook.com/texts/oh-how-blest-are-ye-whose-toils-are-ended. I hope this hymn will prove a blessing to you as we prepare for All Saints’ Day.

 

1 Oh, how blest are ye whose toils are ended,

Who through death have unto God ascended!

Ye have arisen

From the cares which keep us still in prison.

Yes, dear friends, our joys are still increasing,

And our songs of praise are never ceasing,

All is preparing

For the time when ye too shall be sharing.

2 We are still as in a dungeon living,

Still oppressed with sorrow and misgiving!

Our undertakings

Are but toils and troubles and heartbreakings.

Ah, beloved friends! Be not complaining;

Wish not joy while yet on earth remaining;

Be still confiding

In your Father’s love and tender guiding.

3 Ye meanwhile are in your chambers sleeping,

Quiet, and set free from all our weeping;

No cross or sadness

There can hinder your untroubled gladness.

In your conflicts we were once engaging,

Long with sin and Satan warfare waging;

All your distresses

Once were ours, to weary and oppress us.

4 Christ has wiped away your tears forever;

Ye have that for which we still endeavor;

To you are chanted

Songs that ne’er to mortal ears were granted.

Yet in patience run the race before you;

Long for heav’n, where Love is watching o’er you;

Sow now in weeping,

Soon the fruit of joy ye shall be reaping.

5 Ah, who would, then, not depart with gladness

To inherit heav’n for earthly sadness?

Who here would languish

Longer in bewailing and in anguish?

Here ’tis good with Jesus to be living,

Yet yourselves be unto patience giving:

All your endeavors

Christ doth here reward with glorious favors.

6 Come, O Christ, and loose the chains that bind us;

Lead us forth and cast this world behind us.

With Thee, th’ Anointed,

Finds the soul its joy and rest appointed.

Ah, beloved souls! your palms victorious,

Golden harps, and thrones of triumph glorious,

All are awaiting—

Follow on with courage unabating.

Both Together

7 Let us join to praise His name forever,

To us both of ev’ry good the Giver;

His life undying

We shall each obtain, on Him relying.

8 Praise Him, men on earth and saints in heaven!

To the Lamb be praise and glory given—

Praise never ending,

Glory through eternity extending!

 

God's Blessings!

Pastor Neuendorf

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