Monday, November 30, 2009

"Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen"--"The night will soon be ending"

Advent/Christmas song by Jochen Klepper, Germany, during Nazi oppression.

You can purchase an MP3 of the hymn here, I've noticed while looking around. You can also just listen to it or parts of it. YouTube let me down on this one; so did the Wittenberg Trail.

This is one of my favorite hymns. It is just haunting and yet the words are sturdy and comforting. The text was written by Jochen Klepper in 1938; in the German hymn book it has its own melody by Johannes Petzold, written in 1939. The song is contained in the Lutheran Service Book, #337, but with a melody by Vaughn Williams, which is also gorgeous. Both the text and the melody are skillfully done and it all becomes more poignant when we recall Jochen Kleppers personal story of tragedy having been married to a Jewish woman during Nazi times and his committing suicide with her. He was then 39 years old.

I am only posting the last verse, because it seems to me that the text is not in the public domain in English or in German. However, you may purchase a Lutheran Service Book by following the link above.

God dwells with us in darkness
and makes the night as day;
yet we resist the brightness
and turn from God away.
But grace does not forsake us,
however far we run.
God claims us still as children
through Mary's infant Son.

I like the word "claim". There is so much to worry about and so much we think we need to do, but it is God who claims in his grace.

Still, the German version is a little different. Take the last stanza.

"Gott will im Dunkel wohnen und hat es doch erhellt,
als wollte er belohnen so richtet er die Welt,
der sich den Erdkreis baute,
der laesst den Suender nicht,
wer hier dem Sohn vertraute
kommt dort aus dem Gericht."

"God deigns to live in the dark with us, yet he made it bright.
As if he wanted to give out rewards (gifts), this is how he judges the world.
The one who built the earth (universe) for himself,
will not let the sinner be (abandoned to himself).
Whoever trusts the Son, here,
will get out of judgment, there."

Shall we not trust him and look forward to his coming?


Steve Martin said...

"Shall we not trust him and look forward to his coming?"

What else is there to place our trust in?

Nothing that will last.

But His Word will endure forever. And by His grace and mercy we will share in it with Him.

Thanks, Brigitte!

Brigitte said...

Thanks Steve!

Anonymous said...

This is a great hymn. We sang it Sunday with the Fred Pratt Green translation found here:
and german found here:
We sang it with the Petzold tune.
Mark Nelson
St. John's Episcopal Church, Gloucester MA

Brigitte said...

Hello Mark, thanks for comment. I love that song and that melody. Thanks for links, also.