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Nun danket all und bringet Ehr.--(Goed. 78.)

Appeared in Ebeling, 1648, no. 181.

It is based on the Apocryphal book Sirach I. 24, and inspired also of course by the famous hymn of Martin Rinckart130130Cf. p. 11. "Nun danket alle Gott," which may be called the German Te Deum. As a great part of Rinckart's life, was, like Gerhardt's, spent amid the horrors of the Thirty Years' War it is natural that Gerhardt should have been influenced by this voluminous writer. Rinckart's hymn was translated by Miss Winkworth in her Chorale Book, but for some reason she has passed over Gerhardt's verses. As Rinckart was a good musician and his melody131131The melody as it appeared in Crüger's Praxis, etc., is marked with Crüger's initials, but it was quite likely adapted from a motet by Rinckart. was well calculated to please the popular ear it is not strange that his hymn has maintained itself ahead of Gerhardt's.

The only English version published is that of J. Kelly, 1867, p. 238.132132[But now cf. The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941, p. 581, "All ye who on this earth do dwell."]

Stanza 1. In grateful songs your voices raise,
All people here below,
To Him whom angels ever praise
In heav'n His glory show.

The translation has much more flowery language than the original and is far less direct, cf. "In grateful songs" as compared with "Nun danket all," and in the second stanza a virtual repetition of this "with gladsome songs now fill the air" for the very forceful reflexive construction "Ermuntert 47 euch." Throughout the poem the English version brings out more emphatically than the German the idea of life in eternity. Cf. stanza 6:

And may his blessing ever rest.

and the last two lines of stanza 8:

Our portion when from earth we part,
    To all eternity.

In the closing stanza the translation by losing the fervor of Gerhardt's verses is almost anticlimactic. The German is a fervent prayer that God may close our eyes and appear to us in eternity, while the English, in too evident an effort to effect a rhyme with rest, would seem to assign to the Deity a place almost secondary in importance to "our eyes." Cf. stanza 9.133133Er drücke, wann das Herze bricht Uns unsre Augen zu Und zeig uns drauf sein Angesicht Dort in der ewign Ruh.

When sinks the heart, when strength decays,
By Him our eyes be press'd
Then may we see His open face,
    In everlasting rest.

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