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Various authors and 'Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden'

A very familiar hymn in English-speaking countries is Thomas Rawson Taylor's "I'm but a stranger here" written in 1834. It was published in 1836 in his Memoirs and Select Remains, and headed "Heaven is my home. Air--'Robin Adair.'" In America it is usually sung to Arthur S. Sullivan's "Saint's Rest." The hymn so closely resembles Gerhardt's lines in "Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden"218218Cf. p. 74. that the parallels are given below:

1. I'm but a stranger here; Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden 1
Earth is a desert drear,
  Heaven is my home. Was ist mein ganzes Wesen 9
Danger and sorrow stand Als Müh und Not gewesen 11
Round me on every hand,
Heaven is my fatherland, Da ist mein Vaterland 4
  Heaven is my home.
1412. What though the tempests rage, Mich hat auf meinen Wegen 17
Short is my pilgrimage, Manch harter Sturm erschreckt; 18
  Heaven is my home. Blitz, Donner, Wind und Regen 19
And time's wild wintry blast Hat mir manch Angst erweckt; 20
Soon will be overpast, So will ich swar nun treiben 57
I shall reach home at last Mein Leben durch die Welt 58
Doch denk ich nicht zu bleiben 59
  Heaven is my home. In diesem fremden Zelt. 60
3. There at my Savior's side, Mein Heimat ist dort droben, 65
I shall be glorified, Da aller Engel Schaar 66
Den groszen Herrscher loben 67
  Heaven is my home, Die frommen heilgen Seelen 41
Die giengen fort und fort 42
There with the good and blest Da will ich immer wohnen, 105
Those I loved most and best, Bei denen, die mit Kronen 107
I shall forever rest; Du ausgeschmücket hast 108
Da will ich . . . 109
  Heaven is my home. In meinern Erbteil ruhn. 112
4. Therefore I'll murmur not, Hab ich doch müszen leiden 23
Und tragen mit Geduld, 24
Whate'er my earthly lot, Es musz ja durchgedrungen 53
Es musz gelitten sein; 54
  Heaven is my home. So will ich zwar nun treiben 57
Mein Leben durch die Welt. 58
For I shall surely stand
There at my Lord's right hand;-- Cf. lines 105-112, above, quoted opp. stanza 3.
Heaven is my fatherland,
  Heaven is my home.

Other similarities to "Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden" are:

(a) "The Pilgrim," by Sarah H. Palfrey, in the Schaff-Gilman Lib. Rel. Poetry.

A Pilgrim am I on my way
To seek and find the Holy Land . . .

This poem would perhaps bear but slight resemblance to Gerhardt's were it not for the final stanza where the element of joy is introduced:

While Joy shall spring
With me through heaven's straight door.

These lines are certainly suggestive of Gerhardt's words in his stanza XIII:

Du aber, meine Freude . . . du zeuchst mich . . .
Ins Haus der ewgen Wonne.

(b) "The Pilgrim's song," by H. F. Lyte, in his Poems chiefly Religious, 1833 and 1845,

Stanza 1. My rest is in heaven; my rest is not here;
Then why should I murmur when trials are near?
Be hushed, my dark spirit! the worst that can come
But shortens thy journey, and hastens thee home.
2. It is not for me to be seeking my bliss
And building my hopes in a region like this:
I look for a city which hands have not piled;
I pant for a country by sin undefiled. . . .
4. Afflictions may damp me, they cannot destroy;
One glimpse of thy love turns them all into joy: . . .
5. Let doubt then, and danger, my progress oppose;
They only make heaven more sweet at the close. . . .
6. A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand,
I march on in haste through an enemy's land:
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long;
And I'll smooth it with hope and I'll cheer it with song.

Although Lyte based his hymn on Hebrews IV, 9, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God," he treats in his concluding stanza the additional theme of hope and cheer which, as has been seen,219219Cf. p. 22. was a constant and favorite topic with Gerhardt. Since this chapter of Hebrews has no direct reference to this theme we have good reason to assume that from the striking similarity of language of the two hymns Lyte was influenced by Gerhardt's "Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden." Especially in stanza VII is the likeness most noticeable:

So will ich zwar nun treiben
Mein Leben durch die Welt,
Doch denk ich nicht zu bleiben
In diesem fremden Zelt. (Cf. Lyte stanza 6.)

Ich wandre meine Straszen,
Die zu der Heimat führt, (Cf. Lyte stanza 1.)
Da mich ohn alle Maszen
Mein Vater trösten wird. (Cf. Lyte stanza 5.)

(c) "In exile here we wander," by W. Cooke. [Septuagesima.] This hymn appeared in the Hymnary, 1872, under the signature "A. C. C." (i. e., "A Canon of Chester"), and is definitely known to have been suggested to Canon Cooke by Gerhardt's hymn. In Thring's Collection, 1882, stanza III, lines 4-8 is altered to:

And we shall rise in that great day
In bodies like to Thine
And with Thy saints in bright array, (Cf. lines 65, 66.)
Shall in Thy glory shine. (Cf. line 104.)
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