Thursday, May 7, 2009

Paul Gerhardt, a song about marriage

I ended up translating this song first, because it was our wedding anniversary in Winnipeg. I have no idea if there is a melody for this song.

From my perspective, I would say that it is a lovely song and true, but also that marriage is so much harder than anticipated. I notice that Paul Gerhardt nowhere talks about wedded "bliss", just "wonder", or rather "miracle" (Wunder). All his nouns are so much better than "bliss"--skill, slave, nurture, grace. Yes, a miracle. I can go with that. God's doing, again.

"The wonder-filled estate of marriage."

Full of wonder, full of skill,
full of wisdom, full of strength,
full of gifts, of grace and favor,
full of salve, or comfort, nurture,
full of wonder, I say again
--is the yoke of chaste, married love.

Those two people, who never did know
each other before by sight,
who neither gave the faintest thought
--the hearts of these, their hands
--the Lord God ties together in a bond of love.

One man, here, fathers a child.
Another raises his.
Both children are driven in their
separate special paths
by a special wind.
But when the time arrives,
They become a well-formed pair.

In one place grows up a gifted son,
in another place a noble daughter,
one is the other's crown,
one is the other's rest,
one is the other's light,
but neither knows it yet.

This is how things remain-UNTIL
it pleases the One who holds the world in his lap:
at the right hour, He gives to each
what pleases him so well.
Then appears in work and deed
what has been in the Lord's deep, hidden counsel,
all this time.

Then choose Ahasverus' eyes
the quiet Esther for himself;
Providence leads Tobias
into the house of pious Sara.
David's quick determined will
fetches the intelligent Abigail.

Jacob flees from Esau's sword
and finds his dear own Rachel;
Joseph serves on foreign soil
and becomes Lord and husband of Asnath;
Moses asks for a daughter of Jethro,
so Ziproa becomes his own.

Each one finds and each one takes
what the Highest has selected for him.
What has been determined in heaven,
is what tends to happen on the earth.
And whatever happens in this manner
has been done very well, indeed.

Once in a while you might think,
that this or that could have been better.
But, just as darkness never reaches the light of sunshine
in the same manner, the mind of man
cannot fathom God's wisdom.

Leave together what God joins.
He knows what is best.
Our thinking is mistaken and deceives,
but His thoughts are free of error.
God's work has a firm footing
even when everything else may fail.

Watch the pious children,
who thus stand in the holy estate.
How so much God blesses them
How he so lets all the deeds of their hands
go to a good and blessed end.

The worthy glory of their virtue
stands in its fullest bloom.
Even if often, in places, the flower of love
removes itself like a fleeting shadow;
and even if often all faithfulness stops,
the faithfulness of these,here, is ever new.

Their love is always fresh, it gets even younger with time.
Love decorates their table
and sweetens every word.
Even in the midst of life's burdens and sorrows,
the heart finds rest in this love.

When things don't go as desired,
this love still can remain quiet.
It holds up well under the cross
and believes it is God's will.
It assures itself again with joy,
of the better future time ahead.

All the while, God's rich stream of blessings
feeds the bodies,
waters the spirit,
strengthens the foundation and the roof
of this house.
And whatever is small, little and humble,
He makes mighty, much and great.

Finally, when all is accomplished
what God has planned for his pious children in this world,
He will take them to his heaven
and will press them with great affection
to his very own mouth and breast.

So then remains still full of grace,
full of salve, of comfort, nurture,
full of wonder, full of skill,
full of wisdom, full of strength,
full of wonder, I say again:
remains the yoke of chaste married love.


Paul said...

Could you possibly send me the original German text? I read quite well and always enjoy the original language when possible. Thanks for your translation work!

Pr. Paul Becker

Brigitte said...

Hello Paul. Can do. Will post to the top.

Recently, I looked at your blog coming from Matt Harrison's. I notice you posted a song I had just finished rememorizing: "Wir danken dir Herr Jesus Christ dass du fuer uns gestorben bist, und hast uns durch dein teures Blut gemacht vor Gott gerecht und gut."