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Still more popular in its own day was the second hymn that Luther ever wrote; no doubt from its containing in short compass a complete epitome, at once of the reformed doctrine of salvation, and of the actual experience of those who had passed through the same conflicts as Luther himself. An eye-witness of the Reformation says: "Who doubts not, that many hundred Christians have been brought to the true faith by this one hymn alone, who before, perchance, could not so much as bear to hear Luther's 112 name. But his sweet and noble words have so taken their hearts that they were constrained to come to the truth." A curious use was made of it in the year 1557, when a number of princes belonging to the reformed religion being assembled at Frankfort, they wished to have an evangelical service in the church of St. Bartholomew. A large congregation assembled, but the pulpit was occupied by a Roman Catholic priest, who proceeded to preach according to his own views. After listening for some time in indignant silence the whole congregation rose and began to sing this hymn, till they fairly sang the priest out of church. Its tune is that known in England as Luther's Hymn, and tradition says that Luther noted it down from the singing of a travelling artisan. Luther's own title to it is--



Nun freut euch liebes Christen gemein

Martin Luther

trans. by Catherine Winkworth, 1869

Dear Christian people, now rejoice!

Our hearts within us leap,

While we, as with one soul and voice,

With love and gladness deep,

Tell how our God beheld our need,

And sing that sweet and wondrous deed,

That hath so dearly cost Him.

Captive to Satan once I lay,

in inner death forlorn;

My sins oppressed me night and day,

Therein I had been born,

And deeper fell howe'er I strove;

My life had neither joy nor love,

So sore had sin possessed me.


My good works could avail me nought,

For they with sin were stained;

My will against God's justice fought,

And dead to good remained;

My anguish drove me to despair,

For Death I knew was waiting there,

And what but Hell was left me?

Then God in His eternity

Looked on my boundless woe,

His deep compassions flowed toward me,

True succour to bestow:

His Father's heart did yearn and melt

To heal the bitter pains I felt,

Though it should cost His dearest.

He spake to His beloved Son:

"Go Thou, my heart's bright Crown,

The time for pity is begun,

Go Thou in mercy down

To break for men Sin's heavy chain,

To end for them Death's hopeless reign,

And give them life eternal."

The Son delighteth to obey,

And born of virgin mother,

Awhile on this low earth did stay,

And thus became my Brother;

His mighty power He hidden bore,

A servant's form like mine He wore,

My foe for me to vanquish.

To me He spake: "Hold fast by Me,

And thou shalt conquer now;

Myself I wholly give for thee,

For thee I wrestle now;

For I am with thee, thou art Mine,

Henceforth My place is also thine,

The foe shall never part us.


"I know that he will shed My blood,

And take My life away;

But I will bear it for thy good,

Only believe alway;

Death swallows up this life of Mine,

My innocence all sins of thine,

And so art thou delivered.

"And when I rise to heaven above,

Where is my Father's home,

I still will be Thy Lord in love,

And bid my Spirit come

To solace thee in every woe,

To teach thee Me aright to know,

And into Truth to guide thee.

"And even as I have done and said,

So shalt thou say and do,

That so God's kingdom may be spread,

And He have honour due;

And this last counsel give I thee,

From men's additions keep thou free

The treasure I have left thee."

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