If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee

Full Text

1 If you but trust in God to guide you
and place your confidence in him,
you'll find him always there beside you
to give you hope and strength within;
for those who trust God's changeless love
build on the rock that will not move.

2 Only be still and wait his pleasure
in cheerful hope with heart content.
He fills your needs to fullest measure
with what discerning love has sent;
doubt not our inmost wants are known
to him who chose us for his own.

3 Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving,
offer your service faithfully,
and trust his word; though undeserving,
you'll find his promise true to be.
God never will forsake in need
the soul that trusts in him indeed.

Psalter Hymnal, (Gray), 1987

Author: Georg Neumark

Neumark, Georg, son of Michael Neumark, clothier at Langensalza, in Thuringia (after 1623 at Miihlhausen in Thuringia), was born at Langensalza, March 16, 1621; and educated at the Gymnasium at Schleueingen, and at the Gymnasium at Gotha. He received his certificate of dimission from the latter in Sept. 1641 (not 1640). He left Gotha in the autumn of 1641 along with a number of merchants who were going to the Michaelmas Fair at Leipzig. He then joined a similar party who were going from Leipzig to Lübeck; his intention being to proceed to Königsberg and matriculate at the University there. After passing through Magdeburg they were plundered by a band of highwaymen on the Gardelegen Heath, who robbed Neumark of all he had with him, save hi… Go to person page >

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 >

Notes

Scripture References:
all st. = Ps. 55:22, Ps. 56:11, Prov. 3:5-6

Georg Neumark (b. Langensalza, Thuringia, Germany, 1621; d. Weimar, Germany, 1681) lived during the time of the Thirty Years' War, when social and economic conditions were deplorable. He had personal trials as well. On his way to Konigsberg to study at the university, traveling in the comparative safety of a group of merchants, he was robbed of nearly all his possessions. During the next two years he spent much of his time looking for employment. He finally secured a tutoring position in Kiel. When he had saved enough money, he returned to the University of Konigsberg and studied there for five years. In Konigsberg he again lost all his belongings, this time in a fire. Despite his personal suffering Neumark wrote many hymns in which he expressed his absolute trust in God. In 1651 he settled in Weimar, Thuringia, where he became court poet and archivist to Duke Johann Ernst and librarian and registrar of the city. Neumark wrote thirty-four hymns, of which "If You But Trust in God to Guide You" has become a classic.

Neumark wrote this text at age twenty, just after he had finally been able to find employment as a tutor for a judge in Kiel. Neumark was so relieved and grateful to God by his change in circumstance that he wrote this text, saying, “This good fortune, which came so suddenly and, as it were, from heaven, so rejoiced my heart that I wrote my hymn 'Wer nur . . .' to the glory of my God on that first day.”

Written in Kiel, Germany, in 1641, the seven-stanza text (“Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten”) had the following heading: "a hymn of consolation, that God will care for and preserve his own in his own time; after the saying 'cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee.' Psalm 55:22." The text was published with the tune, also composed by Neumark, in Fortgepflanzter Musikalisch-Poetischer Lustwald (1657).

Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194) prepared two translations of the original German text: one published in her Lyra Germanica (1855) and one published with substantial revision in her Chorale Book for England (1863), in which the first stanza began "If thou but suffer God to guide thee." Winkworth's revised translation of Neumark's original Stanzas 1, 3, and 7 is the basis for the three stanzas found in the Psalter Hymnal.

A classic German chorale, this fine text focuses on trust in God's care in all of life's circumstances, both prosperous times and "evil days." As Christians we are counseled to be confident (st. 1), to have patience (st. 2), and to be faithful in service (st. 3).

Liturgical Use:
Many occasions in Christian worship when profound trust and hope in God's providence and faithfulness needs to be affirmed as only song can express it.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune

NEUMARK

Published in 1657 (see above) WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT is also known as NEUMARK. Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) used the tune in its isorhythmic shape (all equal rhythms) in his cantatas 21, 27, 84, 88, 93, 166, 179, and 197. Many Lutheran composers have also written organ preludes on this tune. WER NUR DEN…

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Timeline

Media

Baptist Hymnal 1991 #57
The Cyber Hymnal #2786
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #446
The United Methodist Hymnal #142

Instances

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