646

O God, My Faithful God

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Since it is uniquely the work and passion of the Holy Spirit, who is “our Sanctifier by living in our hearts” (Belgic Confession, Article 9) and “by the work of the Holy Spirit [God] regenerates us and makes us new creatures, causing us to live new life and freeing us from the slavery of sin” (Belgic Confession, Article 24), we plead for his power to continue this work. The Holy Spirit restores us into God’s image “so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32, Question and Answer 86). We come to know, therefore, that our growth in holy living will not occur without the Holy Spirit’s ministry.
646

O God, My Faithful God

Confession

Is not this the fast I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice;
to share your bread with the hungry;
to bring the homeless poor into your house;
to clothe the naked?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly.
Having heard these promises, let us confess our sins.
—based on Isaiah 58:6-8, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Almighty God,
to you all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hid.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name,
through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
[BCP, p 355],alt.,PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

The battle is yours, O Lord.
We are not strong enough to win against personal enemies or cosmic powers.
Help us to put all our trust in the mighty Savior and victorious King, our Lord Jesus,
in whose name we pray. Amen.

A Prayer for Truth Within
Righteous God, you want truth within. Purify our hearts that, knowing the truth, we may speak it, and, speaking the truth, we may follow it with actions that fit. Let us speak and do the truth, O God, to please you who are faithful, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
646

O God, My Faithful God

Tune Information

Name
DARMSTADT
Key
C Major
Meter
6.7.6.7.6.6.6.6.
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O God, My Faithful God

Hymn Story/Background

During the difficulties of the Thirty Years' War in the late 1620s, Johann Heermann wrote the original German text (O Gott, du frommer Gott") in his Silesian home of Koben. Entitled "A Daily Prayer," the text was published in Heermann's Devoti.Musica Cordis (1630). Nineteenth-century German hymnologist A. F. W. Fischer has said of this text, "It is one of the poet's most widely used and signally blessed hymns and has been not unjustly called his 'master song.' If it is somewhat 'home baked,' yet it is excellent, nourishing bread. It gives training in practical Christianity…in godly living."
 
Catherine Winkworth translated the text into English and published it in her Lyra Germanica (second series, 1858). Our version includes the original stanzas 1-­4. The text is a prayer for a Christlike mind (st. 1), obedience to our Lord's commands (st. 2), proper speech (st. 3), and a life of patience and peace (st. 4).
 
Composed by Ahasuerus Fritsch, DARMSTADT first appeared in his Himmels-Lust und Welt-Unlust (1679). The melody was altered when it was published in the 1698 Darmstadt Geistreiches Gesangbuch and in several other eighteenth-century German hymnals. The tune is also known as O GOTT, DU FROMMER GOTT (named after the Heermann text) and as WAS FRAG ICH NACH DER WELT (named after an association with a text in the Darmstadt hymnal).
 
The harmonization comes from Cantata 45 by Johann S. Bach; he also used the tune in cantatas 64, 94, and 133. This noble tune has short phrases that should be sung in four long lines; observe small fermatas at the end of each of the first two lines. Use solid organ tone to support congregational singing in unison or in parts. Keep the energy lively.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Johann Heermann's (b. Raudten, Silesia, Austria, 1585; d. Lissa, Posen [now Poland], 1647) own suffering and family tragedy led him to meditate on Christ's undeserved suffering. The only surviving child of a poor furrier and his wife, Heermann fulfilled his mother's vow at his birth that, if he lived, he would become a pastor. Initially a teacher, Heermann became a minister in the Lutheran Church in Koben in 1611 but had to stop preaching in 1634 due to a severe throat infection. He retired in 1638. Much of his ministry took place during the Thirty Years' War. At times he had to flee for his life and on several occasions lost all his possessions. Although Heermann wrote many of his hymns and poems during these devastating times, his personal faith and trust in God continued to be reflected in his lyrics. He is judged to be the finest hymn writer in the era between Martin Luther and Paul Gerhardt, one whose work marks a transition from the objective hymns of the Reformation to the more subjective hymns of the seventeenth century. His hymn texts were published in collections such as Devoti Musica Cordis, Hauss- und Hertz-Musica (1630, expanded in 1636, 1644), and Sontags- und Fest-evangelia (1636).
— Bert Polman

Catherine Winkworth (b. Holborn, London, England, 1827; d. Monnetier, Savoy, France, 1878) is well known for her English translations of German hymns; her translations were polished and yet remained close to the original. Educated initially by her mother, she lived with relatives in Dresden, Germany, in 1845, where she acquired her knowledge of German and interest in German hymnody. After residing near Manchester until 1862, she moved to Clifton, near Bristol. A pioneer in promoting women's rights, Winkworth put much of her energy into the encouragement of higher education for women. She translated a large number of German hymn texts from hymnals owned by a friend, Baron Bunsen. Though often altered, these translations continue to be used in many modern hymnals. Her work was published in two series of Lyra Germanica (1855, 1858) and in The Chorale Book for England (1863), which included the appropriate German tune with each text as provided by Sterndale Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt. Winkworth also translated biographies of German Christians who promoted ministries to the poor and sick and compiled a handbook of biographies of German hymn authors, Christian Singers of Germany (1869).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Ahasuerus Fritsch (b. Mücheln on the Geissel, near Merseburg, Germany, 1629; d. Rudolstadt, Germany, 1701) grew up during the turbulent time of the Thirty Years' War, and his family was often forced to flee for their lives. He was educated at the University of Jena and later became chancellor of that university. He also served as president of the church's consistory in Rudolstadt and edited two collections of hymns.
— Bert Polman

Johann Sebastian Bach (b. Eisenach, Germany, 1685; d. Leipzig, Germany, 1750) came from a family of musicians. He learned to play violin, organ, and harpsichord from his father and his older brother, Johann Christoph. Bach's early career developed in Arnstadt and Muhlhausen, particularly at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar. During this period he composed cantatas and most of his large organ works. In 1717 Bach became director of music for Prince Leopold in Anhalt-Cathen, for whom he composed much of his instrumental music-orchestral suites and concertos as well as The Well-Tempered Clavier. In 1723 he was appointed cantor of the Thomas Schule at Leipzig and director at St. Thomas and St. Nicholas churches and at the University of Leipzig. During that time he wrote his large choral works, 165 cantatas, and more compositions for organ and harpsichord. Although Bach's contribution to church music was immense and his stature as the finest composer of the Baroque era unparal­leled, he composed no hymn tunes for congregational use. He did, however, harmo­nize many German chorales, which he used extensively in his cantatas, oratorios, and organ works. These harmonizations were published posthumously by his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel as 371 Vierstimmige Choralgesiinge.
— Bert Polman
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