Christ the Life of all the living

Full Text

1 Christ, the life of all the living;
Christ, the death of death our foe;
Christ, for us yourself once giving
to the darkest depths of woe:
through your suffering, death, and merit,
life eternal we inherit;
thousand, thousand thanks are due,
dearest Jesus, unto you.

2 You have suffered great affliction
and have borne it patiently,
even death by crucifixion:
our atonement full and free.
Lord, you chose to be tormented,
that our doom should be prevented;
thousand, thousand thanks are due,
dearest Jesus, unto you.

3 Lord, for all that bought our pardon,
for the sorrows deep and sore,
for the anguish in the garden,
we will thank you evermore.
For the victory of your dying -
sinful nature mortifying -
thousand, thousand thanks are due,
dearest Jesus, unto you.

Source: Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #137

Translator: Catherine Winkworth

Catherine Winkworth is "the most gifted translator of any foreign sacred lyrics into our tongue, after Dr. Neale and John Wesley; and in practical services rendered, taking quality with quantity, the first of those who have laboured upon German hymns. Our knowledge of them is due to her more largely than to any or all other translators; and by her two series of Lyra Germanica, her Chorale Book, and her Christian Singers of Germany, she has laid all English-speaking Christians under lasting obligation." --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872… Go to person page >

Author: Ernst C. Homburg

Homburg, Ernst Christoph, was born in 1605, at Mihla, near Eisenach. He practised at Nauraburg, in Saxony, as Clerk of the Assizes and Counsellor. In 1648 ho was admitted a member of the Fruitbearing Society, and afterwards became a member of the Elbe Swan Order founded by Rist in 1660. He died at Naumburg, Juno 2, 1681. (Koch, iii. 388, 392; Allegemeine Deutsche Biographie, xiii. 43, 44.) By his contemporaries Homburg was regarded as a poet of the first rank. His earlier poems, 1638-1653, were secular, including many love and drinking songs. Domestic troubles arising from the illnesses of himself and of his wife, and other afflictions, led him to seek the Lord, and the deliverances he experienced from pestilence and from violence led him… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Christ the Life of all the living
German Title: Jesu, meines Lebens Leben
Translator: Catherine Winkworth
Author: Ernst C. Homburg (1659)
Meter: with refrain
Language: English
Refrain First Line: thousand, thousand thanks are due
Copyright: Public Domain


Ernst C. Homburg (b. Mihla, near Eisenach, Germany, 1605; d. Naumberg, Germany, 1681) wrote this German chorale text (“Jesu, meines Lebens Leben”), which was published in Part One of his Geistliche Lieder (1658). Homburg, who wrote most of his hymns for his own devotions, described his eight-stanza text as a "hymn of thanksgiving to his Redeemer and Savior for his bitter sufferings." In early life Homburg was a writer of love and drinking songs. After a difficult time of family illness he experienced a religious conversion, and his poetry took a more serious turn. A lawyer by profession, he wrote hymns to express and strengthen his own faith rather than for public use. Some 150 of his hymn texts were published in his Geistliche Lieder.

The translation of selected stanzas is by Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194), who published them in her Chorale Book for England (1863).

The text is a meditation on the suffering and death of Christ, which brought eternal life to believers (st. 1), provided full atonement for our sin (st. 2), and mortified our "old nature" (st. 3). The tone of unending gratitude to God reflected in the refrain line–"thousand, thousand thanks are due"–runs throughout the entire text.

Liturgical Use:
Lent, especially Holy Week; any worship service with a thanksgiving focus.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



The composer of the tune is unknown; it was first published in Das grosse Cantional: oder Kirchen-Gesangbuch (Darmstadt, 1687) to the text "Alle Menschen mussen sterben" by J. G. Albinus; some Baroque organ works are associated with that text. The tune became associated with Homburg's text since the…

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The Cyber Hymnal #900
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Include 49 pre-1979 instances