Tuesday Hymns: “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”

In the early Autumn of 1641, George Neumark was walking across country to begin his studies at the University of Koningsberg, when he was waylaid by criminals who took everything he owned. Without money for food or schooling he began to search for work. He had yet to find employment when December arrived, and life was beginning to look very bleak for the young man. His life took a turn for the better when, providentially, the tutor of a prominent family fell into disgrace and Neumark was offered the vacant teaching position.

Neumark’s response to God’s blessing was the writing of our Tuesday Hymn for this week, If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee. The lyrics remind us that God is sovereign and when life is difficult it is always best to trust in Him, knowing that He is working all things for our good, and not to allow bitterness to take refuge in our hearts. Neumark composed both the words and the tune
of this marvelous hymn.

If Thou but suffer God to guide thee, and hope in Him through all thy ways, He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee, and bear thee through the evil days: Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the Rock that naught can move.

What can these anxious cares avail thee, these never ceasing moans and sighs? What can it help, if thou bewail thee o’er each dark moment as it flies? Our cross and trials do but press the heavier for our bitterness.

Only be still, and wait His leisure in cheerful hope, with heart content to take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure and all discerning love hath sent; nor doubt our inmost wants are known to Him who chose us for His own.

All are alike before the Highest; ’tis easy to our God, we know, to raise thee up though low thou liest, to make the rich man poor and low; true wonders still by Him are wrought who setteth up and brings to naught.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving, so do thine own part faithfully, and trust His Word–though undeserving, thou yet shalt find it true for thee; God never yet fosook at need the soul that trusted Him indeed.

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3 Comments

  1. Joshua Miller said,

    November 30, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    Again, beautiful chorale…
    J. S. Bach has eight settings of this hymn in his Kantatas and a few more for organ. According to the Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, Neumark ended up as the registrar and chaplin to the royal Saxon court.

    • cliftonr said,

      November 30, 2009 at 1:56 PM

      Duke Wilhelm II was apparently very impressed with Neumark. I especially love the second verse:

      What can these anxious cares avail thee, these never ceasing moans and sighs? What can it help, if thou bewail thee o’er each dark moment as it flies? Our cross and trials do but press the heavier for our bitterness.

  2. May 15, 2011 at 6:10 AM

    This is one of my favorite hymns and never fails to comfort me when things go wrong. I carry the music around in my head and it reminds me that angels are watching through whatever happens.


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