Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Eve

The German hymn for this night that begins

O Traurigkeit,
O Herzeleid,
Ist das nicht zu beklagen!
Gott, des Vaters einig Kind,
Wird ins Grab getragen!

was translated by the prolific Catherine Winkworth as

O darkest woe!
Ye tears, forth flow!
Has earth so sad a wonder?
God the Father’s only Son
Now lies buried yonder.

Charles Winfred Douglas, in the Hymnal 1940, begins his (copyrighted) translation

O sorrow deep!
Who would not weep (...)

That hymn has only two verses, and leaves us at the tomb. But the service of the Great Vigil goes all the way to resurrection. When we were working on our hymnal we wanted something different. Longer, certainly (we always wanted more verses**), and ending on a more hopeful note. We received permission from the Church Pension Fund to use Douglas's two verses, then added two more of our own:

Savior and Friend,
Our voices blend
In hymns and prayers and stories,
Telling of God's covenants,
Graces, gifts, and glories.

Rest from thy pain,
Then rise again!
O Jesus, soothe our sorrow
As we wait throughout this night
For the glorious morrow.

(German, 17th c.)

** The Episcopalians clearly felt it was too short also; they added two verses in the Hymnal 1982 by James Waring McCrady (who also added - actually replaced - a verse for Once in royal David's city).

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