I came forth to meet Thee, diligently to seek Thy face. Proverbs 7:15
Words: Paul Gerhardt, in D. M. Luthers und anderer vornehmen geistreichen und gelehrten Männer geistliche Lieder und Psalmen, by Christoph Runge (Berlin: 1653) (Wie soll ich dich empfangen). Translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, Chorale Book for England, 1863.
How shall I meet Thee? How my heart
Receive her Lord aright?
Desire of all the earth Thou art!
My hope, my sole delight!
Kindle the lamp, Thou Lord, alone,
Half-dying in my breast,
And make Thy gracious pleasure known
How I may greet Thee best.
Her budding boughs and fairest palms
Thy Zion strews around;
And songs of praise and sweetest psalms
From my glad heart shall sound.
My desert soul breaks forth in flowers,
Rejoicing in Thy fame;
And puts forth all her sleeping powers,
To honor Jesus’ name.
In heavy bonds I languished long,
Thou com’st to set me free;
The scorn of every mocking tongue—
Thou com’st to honor me.
A heavenly crown wilt Thou bestow,
And gifts of priceless worth,
That vanish not as here below
The fading wealth of earth.
Naught, naught, dear Lord, has power to move
Thee from Thy rightful place,
Save that most strange and blessèd love
Wherewith Thou dost embrace
This weary world and all her woe,
Her load of grief and ill
And sorrow, more than man can know—
Thy love is deeper still.
O write this promise in your hearts,
Ye sorrowful, on whom
Fall thickening cares, while joy departs
And darker grows your gloom.
Despair not, for your help is near,
He standeth at the door
Who best can comfort you and cheer,
He comes, nor stayeth more.
Nor vex your souls with care, nor grieve
And labor longer thus,
As though your arm could ought achieve,
And bring Him down to us.
He comes, He comes with ready will
By pity moved alone,
To soothe our every grief and ill,
For all to Him are known.
Nor ye, O sinners, shrink aside,
Afraid to see His face,
Your darkest sins our Lord will hide
Beneath His pitying grace.
He comes, He comes, to save from sin,
And all its pangs assuage,
And for the sons of God to win
Their proper heritage.
Why heed ye then the craft and noise,
The fury of His foes?
Lo, in a breath the Lord destroys
All who His rule oppose.
He comes, He comes, as king to reign!
And earthly powers may band
Against Him, yet they strive in vain,
His might may none withstand.
He comes to judge the earth, and ye
Who mocked Him, feel His wrath;
But they who loved and sought Him see
His light o’er all their path.
O Sun of Righteousness! arise,
And guide us on our way
To yon fair mansion in the skies
Of joyous cloudless day.