Lord Christ, God’s Only Dear Son

Tune: Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn


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  1. Lord Christ, God’s only dear Son,
    His from eternity,
    Forth from the Father’s heart sprung,
    As in Scripture we see,
    The Morning Star, He gleameth,
    His light more brightly beameth
    Than all stars in the sky.
  2. For us was born of woman
    In the fullness of time
    He whose pure mother virgin
    Kept her chasteness sublime,
    Who death for us hath riven,
    Unbarred the gates of heaven,
    Life restored unto us.
  3. Let us in love adore Thee,
    In Thy knowledge increase,
    In spirit serve before Thee,
    Nor from faith ever cease,
    That here in earthly weakness
    Our hearts may taste Thy sweetness,
    Thirsting ever for Thee.
  4. Thou who the whole world founded,
    Thou of fatherly might,
    Who in Thy pow’r unbounded
    Reignest o’er day and night,
    O let our hearts pursue Thee,
    And turn our minds unto Thee
    Lest from Thee they should stray.
  5. Lord, kill us with Thy goodness,
    Quicken us with Thy grace,
    Make our old nature perish,
    Grant new life in its place
    While yet on earth we’re dwelling.
    Each thought, desire, and longing
    Make to cleave unto Thee.

Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn
Elisabeth Cruciger, 1524
Tr. Christopher J. Neuendorf, 2014

German Text

Tune: Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn

  1. Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn,
    Vaters in Ewigkeit,
    Aus seim Herzen entsprossen,
    Gleichwie geschrieben steht,
    Er ist der Morgensterne,
    Sein Glänze streckt er ferne
    Vor andern Sternen klar.
  2. Für uns ein Mensch geboren
    Im letzten Teil der Zeit,
    Der Mutter unverloren
    Ihr jungfräulich Keuschheit,
    Den Tod für uns zerbrochen,
    Den Himmel aufgeschlossen,
    Das Leben wiederbracht.
  3. Laß uns in deiner Liebe
    Und Kenntniß nehmen zu,
    Daß wir am Glauben bleiben,
    Und dienen im Geist so,
    Daß wir hie mögen schmecken
    Dein Süßigkeit im Herzen,
    Und dürsten stets nach dir.
  4. Du Schöpfer aller Dinge,
    Du väterliche Kraft,
    Regierst von End zu Ende
    Kräftig aus eigner Macht.
    Das Herz uns zu dir wende
    Und kehr ab unser Sinne,
    Daß sie nicht irrn von dir.
  5. Ertödt uns durch dein Güte,
    Erweck uns durch dein Gnad,
    Den alten Menschen kränke,
    Daß der neu leben mag
    Wohl hie auf dieser Erden,
    Den Sinn und all Begierden
    Und G’danken habn zu dir.

Elisabeth Cruciger, 1524
Source: C.F.W. Walther’s Kirchen-Gesangbuch, 1898 printing, No. 24

Author: Elisabeth Cruciger
Source: Eyn Enchiridion oder Handbüchlein, Erfurt, 1524

The hymn in one of its original printings
The opening of “Lord Christ, God’s Only Dear Son (Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn)” as it appeared in Maler’s edition of the Erfurt Enchiridion, 1524, courtesy of Trinity College Library Dublin.

“Lord Christ, God’s Only Dear Son” (“Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn“) is one of the earliest Lutheran chorales. Written by Elisabeth Cruciger (née von Meseritz; c. 1500–1535), a former nun who was won over for the Lutheran Reformation and moved to Wittenberg, where she married Caspar Cruciger in 1524, it was included in both printings of the “Erfurt Enchiridion,” as well as Johann Walter’s Wittenberg Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn of the same year. A scan of the hymn in the Loersfeld printing of the “Erfurt Enchiridion” is available here.

Though the hymn has come to be associated with Christmas and Epiphany due to some stanzas’ emphasis on the Incarnation and on Jesus as the “Morning Star,” in the Erfurt Enchiridion it was entitled “A Song of Praise Concerning Christ” and was not included among the hymns ordered according to the Church Year. In later hymnals it was included in the section on Faith and Justification, and has been thus categorized at the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book.

Select stanzas were translated by Catherine Winkworth as No. 155 in the Chorale Book for England, 1863, and by Arthur Tozer Russell as No. 41 in his Psalms and Hymns, 1851. Russell’s translation, which omits stanzas 4–5, has been included in the recent hymnals of all the major Lutheran church bodies. Starting with the Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978, a doxological stanza has been added, which, though beautiful, is not a part of the original hymn. Russell’s translation departs in significant ways from the original, and Winkworth’s follows a different rhyme scheme. A new translation has therefore been prepared for the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book that includes all five original stanzas and remains as close as possible to Elisabeth Cruciger’s German text. Both text and music may be freely used and reproduced for any purpose whatever, and are offered with the prayer that they may serve for the edification of Christian people everywhere.

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Available Recording: The Vocal Concert Dresden, under the direction of Peter Kopp, beautifully performs four stanzas on their album Lob, Ehr und Preis sei Gott: Die schönsten deutschen Kirchenlieder, track 20, available on iTunes and AmazonMP3 (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases). Three historic settings are featured: Stanza 1, Caspar Othmayr; stanzas 2 and 5, Hans Leo Hassler; stanza 4, Johann Walter, 1524. The entire album is heartily recommended.