Tuesday Hymns: “Commit Now All Your Griefs”

The following paragraph in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie by Koch describes well the difficult life experienced by Paul Gerhardt:

The outward circumstances of Gerhardt’s life were for the most part gloomy. His earlier years were spent amid the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War. He did not obtain a settled position in life till he was 44 years of age. He was unable to marry till four years later; and his wife, after a long illness, died during the time that he was without office in Berlin; while of the five children of the marriage only one passed the period of childhood. The sunniest period of his life was during the early years of his Berlin ministry (i.e. 1657-1663), when he enjoyed universal love and esteem; while his latter years at Lübben as a widower with one surviving child were passed among a rough and unsympathising people. The motto on his portrait at Lübben not unjustly styles him “Theologus in cribro Satanae versatus.”

Thus, when Gerhardt writes for God’s people to trust in their Lord “who earth and heav’n commands,” and “who points the clouds their course,” during troubled times, he knows of what he writes. My Bible reading for the day reminded me that there will come a day when “the oppressor is no more, and destruction has ceased, and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land, then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness,” (Isaiah 16) but that day has not arrived in all of its fullness. Granted, Christ is on the throne now, and nothing can touch me as His redeemed one unless it first passes through His hands, and, thus, I can know that it is working for my eternal good; yet, as long as I am living in this fallen world, I will experience grief, tears, misunderstanding, sickness, trial, and trouble. As I do so, I need to remember the words so beautifully written by Gerhardt and sung to the tune, DIADEMATA:

1 Commit thou all your griefs
And ways into his hands;
To his sure truth and tender care,
Who earth and heav’n commands.
Who points the clouds their course,
Whom winds and seas obey,
He shall direct your wand’ring feet,
He shall prepare your way.

2 Give to the winds your fears;
Hope, and be undismayed;
God hears your sighs, and counts your tears,
God shall lift up your head.
Through waves and clouds and storms
He gently clears your way;
Wait for his time, so shall the night
Soon end in joyous day.

3 Still heavy is your heart?
Still sink your spirits down?
Cast off the weight, let fear depart,
And every care be gone.
He everywhere has sway,
And all things serve his might;
His every act pure blessing is,
His path unsullied light.

4 Far, far above your thought
His counsel shall appear,
When fully he the work has wrought
That caused your needless fear.
Leave to his sovereign sway
To choose and to command;
With wonder filled, you then hall own
How wise, how strong his hand!

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