Befiehl du deine Wege

Befiehl du deine Wege

Author: Paul Gerhardt
Published in 108 hymnals

Full Text

1. Befiehl du deine wege,
Und was dein herze kränkt,
Der allertreusten pflege
Deß, der den himmel lenkt;
Der wolken, luft und winden
Gibt wege, lauf und bahn,
Der wird auch wege finden,
Da dein fuß gehen kann.

2. Dem Herren mußt du trauen,
Wann dir's soll wohl ergehn;
Auf sein werk mußt du schauen,
Wenn dein werk soll bestehn.
Mit sorgen und mit grämen,
Und mit selbst eig'ner pein,
Läßt Gott ihm gar nichts nehmen,
Es muß erbeten sein.

3. Dein' ew'ge treu' und gnade,
O Vater! weiß und sieht,
Was gut sei oder schade
Dem sterblichen geblüt;
Und was du denn erlesen,
Das treibst du, starker held!
Und bringst zum stand und wesen,
Was deinem rath gefällt.

4. Weg' hast du allerwegen,
An mitteln fehlt dir's nicht,
Dein thun ist lauter segen,
Dein gang ist lauter licht,
Dein werk kann niemand hindern,
Dein' arbeit darf nicht ruhn,
Wenn du, was deinen kindern
Ersprießlich ist, willt thun.

5. Und ob gleich alle teufel
Hie wollten widerstehn,
So wird doch ohne zweifel
Gott nicht zurücke gehn:
Was er ihm vorgenommen,
Und was er haben will,
Das muß doch endlich kommen
Zu seinem zweck und ziel.

6. Hoff'! o du arme seele,
Hoff' und sei unverzagt;
Gott wird dich aus der höhle,
Da dich der kummer plagt,
Mit großen gnaden rücken:
Erwarte nur der zeit,
So wirst du schon erblicken
Die sonn' der schönsten freud'.

7. Auf! auf! gib deinem schmerze
Und sorgen gute nacht:
Laß fahren, was das herze
Betrübt und traurig macht;
Bist du doch nicht regente,
Der alles führen soll:
Gott sitzt im regimente,
Und führet alles wohl.

8. Ihn, ihn laß thun und walten,
Er ist ein weiser fürst,
Und wird sich so verhalten,
Daß du dich wundern wirst,
Wenn er, wie ihm gebühret,
Mit wunderbarem rath
Das werk hinausgeführet,
Das dich bekümmert hat.

9. Er wird zwar eine weile
Mit seinem trost verziehn,
Und thun an seinem theile,
Als hätt' in seinem sinn
Er deiner sich begeben,
Und sollt'st du für und für
In angst und nöthen schweben,
So frag' er nichts nach dir.

10. Wird's aber sich befinden,
Daß du ihm treu verbleibst,
So wird er dich entbinden,
Da du's am mind'sten gläubst:
Er wird dein herze lösen
Von der so schweren last,
Die du zu keinem bösen
Bisher getragen hast.

11. Wohl dir, du kind der treue,
Du hast und trägst davon
Mit ruhm und dankgeschreie
Den sieg und ehrenkron':
Gott gibt dir selbst die palmen
In deine rechte hand,
Und du singst freudenpsalmen,
Dem, der dein leid gewand't.

12. Mach' end', o Herr! mach' ende
An aller unser noth;
Stärk' unsre füß' und hände,
Und laß bis in den tod
Uns allzeit deiner pflege
Und treu' empfohlen sein,
So gehen unsre wege
Gewiß zum himmel ein.

Source: Kirchen-Gesangbuch: für Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden #355

Author: Paul Gerhardt

Gerhardt, Paulus, son of Christian Gerhardt, burgomaster of Gräfenhaynichen, near Wittenberg, was born at Grafenhaynichen, Mar. 12, 1607. On January 2, 1628, he matriculated at the University of Wittenberg. In the registers of St. Mary's church, Wittenberg, his name appears as a godfather, on July 13, 1641, described still as "studiosus," and he seems to have remained in Wittenberg till at least the end of April, 1642. He appears to have gone to Berlin in 1642 or 1643, and was there for some time (certainly after 1648) a tutor in the house of the advocate Andreas Barthold, whose daughter (Anna Maria, b. May 19, 1622, d. March 5, 1668) became his wife in 1655. During this period he seems to have frequently preached in Berlin. He was appoint… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Befiehl du deine Wege
Author: Paul Gerhardt
Language: German
Copyright: Public Domain

Notes

Befiehl du deine Wege. P. Gerhardt. [Trust in God.] This hymn, which Lauxmann in Koch, viii. 392, calls "The most comforting of all the hymns that have resounded on Paulus Gerhardt's golden lyre, sweeter to many souls than honey and the honey-comb," appeared as No. 333 in the Frankfurt edition, 1656, of Crüger's Praxis pietatis melica. Thence in Wackernagel's edition of his Geistliche Lieder, No. 66, and Bachmann's edition, No. 72, in 12 stanzas of 8 lines, and included as No. 620 in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851. It is an acrostic on Luther's version of Ps. xxxvii. 5, "Befiehl dem Herren deine Wege und hoffe auf ihn, er wirds wohl machen," formed by the initial words of the stanzas, those in Wackernagel’s edition being printed in blacker type. This acrostic form has been preserved by Jacobi and Stallybrass.

According to tradition it was written in a Saxon village to console his wife after being compelled to leave Berlin. But, as already stated, the hymn was published in 1656, and though Gerhardt had to leave his office in 1666, he did not leave Berlin till his appointment to Lübben in 1669, while his wife died in Berlin in 1668.
The hymn soon spread over Germany, found its way into all the hymn-books, and ranks as one of the finest hymns of its class. Lauxmann relates that it was sung when the foundation stone of the first Lutheran church at Philadelphia was laid, May 2,1743, and again on Oct. 20, when the Father of the American Lutheran Church, Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, held the opening service. He also relates that Queen Luise of Prussia, during the time when Germany was downtrodden by Napoleon J., came to Ortelsburg in East Prussia, and there, on Dec. 5,1806, wrote in her diary the verses of Goethe (Wilhelm Meister, Book ii, Chap, xiii.), thus rendered by Thomas Carlyle:—

Who never ate his bread in sorrow,
Who never spent the darksome hours
Weeping and watching for the morrow,
He knows ye not, ye gloomy Powers.
To earth, this weary earth, ye bring us,
To guilt ye let us heedless go,
Then leave repentance fierce to wring us:
A moment's guilt, an age of woe!

But drying her tears she went to the harpsichord, and from Goethe turned to Gerhardt, and played and sang this hymn. In his note, extending from p. 392 to p. 405, Lauxmann gives many other instances of its consoling effects, and says of it, "Truly a hymn which, as Luther's ‘Ein feste Burg,' is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses."

Translations in common use:—
1. Commit thou all thy griefs. A noble but free translation, omitting stanzas v., ix.-xi., by J. Wesley in Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1739 (Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. i. p. 125), in 8 stanzas of 8 lines Though free, it has in far greater measure than any other caught the ring and spirit of Gerhardt. Included as No. 37 in the Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1753, and as Nos. 103-104 in the Pocket Hymn Book, 1785, but not included in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, till as Nos. 673, 674 in the Supplement of 1830 (stanza iii., lines 4-8, being omitted), and thence as No. 831 in the edition of 1875. This translations has come into very extended use, but generally abridged; Mercer, in the 1857 edition of his Church Psalm and Hymn Book, giving it in full, but abridging it to 8 stanzas in his Oxford edition, 1864. Among recent collections it is found under its original first line in the Baptist Psalms and Hymns, 1858, Sarum Hymnal, 1868, Irish Church Hymnal, 1873, Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876, Horder's Congregational Hymns, 1884, and others; and in America in the Plymouth Collection, 1855, Sabbath Hymn Book, 1858, Hymns and Songs of Praise, N. Y., 1874, Evangelical Hymnal, N. Y., 1880, and many others. In the United Presbyterian Hymn Book, 1852, it began, "To God commit thy griefs." It is also found as follows:—
1. "Thou on the Lord rely" (Wesley's iii.), in Knight's Collection, Dundee, 1871-74.
2. "Thy everlasting truth" (Wesley's v.), in Adams's Church Pastorals, Boston, U.S., 1864.
3. "Give to the winds thy fears" (Wesley's ix.), in Kennedy, 1863, and many English and American Collections.
4. "0 cast away thy fears " (Wesley's ix. altered), in United Presbyterian Hymn Book, 1852.
5. “Through waves and clouds and storms " (Wesley's x.), in Davies and Baxter's Collection, 1835.
6. "Leave to His sovereign sway" (Wesley's xiii.), in Adams's Church Pastorals, Boston, U.S., 1864.
7. "Thou seest our weakness, Lord " (Wesley's xv.), in American Methodist Episcopal Hymns, 1849.
8. "Put thou thy trust in God," a greatly altered cento of which stanza i. is based on iii., lines 1-4; ii. on i., lines 1-4; iii. on iii., lines 1-4; and iv. on v., lines 5-8; appeared as No. 77 in the Mitre Hymn Book, 1836, and since in various hymnals, e.g. S.P.C.K. Psalms and Hymns, 1853, Kennedy, 1863.
2. Commit thy way, confiding. In full by Dr. H. Mills in the Evangelical Review, Gettysburg, July, 1849, and his Horae Germanica, 1856, p. 172. His stanzas i., ii., vi., xii. were included in the Lutheran General Synod's Hymns, 1852, and i., ii., v., vi., xi., xii. in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
3. Thy way and all thy sorrows. In full by A. T. Russell as No. 233 in his Psalms and Hymns, 1851, in 3 pts. Pt. ii. begins "In vain the powers of darkness" (stanza v.), and pt. iii. with "Awhile His consolation" (stanza ix.).
4. Commit thy way to God. A good translation, omitting stanzas ix., x., xii., by Mrs. Charles in her Voice of Christian life in Song, 1858, p. 239. Her translations of stanzas i., ii., vi., viii., xi. form No. 138 in Jellicoe's Collection, 1867, and i., vi.-viii., xi., No. 283 in Bishop Kyle's Collection, 1860.
5. Commit thy way, 0 weeper. A free paraphrase, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, by J. S. Stallybrass for the Tonic-Solfa Reporter, July, 1857, repeated in Curwen's Child's Own Hymn Book, 1862, and new Child's Own Hymn Book, 1874.
6. Commit thou every sorrow, And care. Translation of stanzas i.-iii., xii. by Miss Borthwick, as No. 240 in Dr. Pagenstecher's Collection, 1864.
Translations not in common use:—
(1) "Commit thy Ways and Goings," by J. C. Jacobi, 1720, p. 15 (1722, p. 38, 1732, p. 03). (2) "Commit thou thy each grievance," No. 472, in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754 (1849, No. 191). (3) "Com¬mit thy ways, thy sorrows," by Mrs. Stanley Carr in her translation of Wildenhahn's Paul Gerhardt, 1845 (edition 1856. p, 207). (4) "Commit thy secret grief," by Miss Dunn, 1857, p. 89. (5) "Commend thy way, 0 mortal," in Madame de Pontes's Poets and Poetry of Germany, 1858, vol. i., p. 424. (6) "Commit thou all thy ways, and all," by Mrs. Bevan, 1859, p. 124. (7) "Commit thy way unto the Lord, thy heavy," by Dr. R. P. Dunn in Sacred Lyrics from the German, Phil. 1859, p. 85. (8) "To God thy way commending," by Miss Cox, 1864, p. 161, and the Gilman-Schaff, Library of Religious Poetry, edition 1883, p. 510. (9) “Commit whatever grieves thee," by J. Kelly, 1867, p. 225. (10) "Commit thy way. 0 weeping," by Dr. J. Guthrie in his Sacred Lyrics, 1869, p. 92. (11) "Commit the way before thee," by N. L. Frothingham, 1870, p. 164. (12) "Commit thy course and keeping," by Dr. John Cairns, c. 1850, but first published Edin. 1881, as an eight-page tract.

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

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