A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth

“Paul Gerhardt wrote the hymn ALamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth in 1648 at age 41. Gerhardt grew up during the Thirty-Years War and lived a life marked with hardship and suffering, both physical and theological. His time as a Lutheran pastor in Germany was marked with controversy between the Lutherans and the Reformed. Gerhardt stood firm against the elector (governor) and compelled the Lutheran pastors not to compromise their faith.

“A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth has been called “the masterpiece of all Passion hymns.” (Pollack, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, 111) One of the great themes of the hymn is the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. In both the Old and New Testaments the Scriptures picture the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God. Isaiah 53:4-7 describes the Messiah as the suffering servant, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” St John the Baptist continues this theme of the Lamb of God in His preaching, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” [ St John 1:29]1

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Lyrics - “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” by Paul Gerhardt

1. A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,
The guilt of all men bearing;
And laden with the sins of earth,
None else the burden sharing!
Goes patient on, grow weak and faint,
To slaughter led without complaint,
That spotless life to offer;
Bears shame and stripes, and wounds and death,
Anguish and mockery, and saith,
“Willing all this I suffer.”
 
2. This Lamb is Christ, the soul’s great Friend,
The Lamb of God, our Savior;
Him God the Father chose to send
To gain for us His favor.
“Go forth, My Son,” the Father saith,
“And free men from the fear of death,
From guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Thy Passion men shall share
The fruit of Thy salvation.”
 
3. “Yea, Father, yea, most willingly
I’ll bear what Thou commandest;
My will conforms to Thy decree,
I do what Thou demandest.”
O wondrous Love, what hast Thou done!
The Father offers up His Son!
The Son, content, descendeth!
O Love, how strong Thou art to save!
Thou beddest Him within the grave
Whose word the mountains rendeth.
 
4. From morn till eve my theme shall be
Thy mercy’s wondrous measure;
To sacrifice myself for Thee
Shall be my aim and pleasure.
My stream of life shall ever be
A current flowing ceaselessly,
Thy constant praise outpouring.
I’ll treasure in my memory,
O Lord, all Thou hast done for me,
Thy gracious love adoring.
 
5. Of death I am no more afraid,
New life from Thee is flowing;
Thy cross affords me cooling shade
When noonday’s sun is glowing.
When by my grief I am opprest,
On Thee my weary soul shall rest
Serenely as on pillows.
Thou art my Anchor when by woe
My bark is driven to and fro
On trouble’s surging billows.
 
6. And when Thy glory I shall see
And taste Thy kingdom’s pleasure,
Thy blood my royal robe shall be,
My joy beyond all measure.
When I appear before Thy throne,
Thy righteousness shall be my crown,-
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought
As Thine own bride, I shall be brought
To stand in joy beside Thee.
 
The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #142
Text: Is. 53: 7
Author: Paul Gerhardt, 1648, cento
Translated by: composite
Titled: Ein Laemmlein geht
Tune: An Wasserfluessen Babylon
1st Published in: “Deutsch Kirchenamt”
Town: Strassburg, 1525

More about the Author, Paul Gerhardt

Paul Gerhardt’s faith and character can be seen in an excerpt from the “testament” he prepared for his son:

“Now that I have reached the 70th year of my life and also have the joyful hope that my dear, holy God will soon rescue me out of this world and lead me into a better life than I have had until now on earth, I thank Him especially for all His kindness and faithfulness which, from my mother’s womb until the present hour, He has shown me in body and soul and in all that He has given me. Besides this, I ask Him from the bottom of my heart that when my hour comes He would grant me a happy departure, take my soul into His fatherly hands, and give my body a peaceful rest in the ground until the dear Last Day, when I, with all of my [family] who have been before me and also may remain after me, will reawake and behold my dear Lord Jesus Christ face to face, in whom I have believed but have not yet seen. To my only son whom I am leaving behind I leave few earthly goods, but with them I leave him an honorable name of which he will not have to be ashamed. read the rest…

  1. Wolfmueller. Retrieved 2018-02-18 from www.hope-aurora.org/hymns/ALambGoesUncomplainingIandII.pdf ↩︎


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