Text: Gerhardt Tersteegen (1697-1769)
Music: German melody
Tune name: TYSK
Gerhardt Tersteegen was born into a family that belonged to the Reformed Church. His father’s death when he was just six years old so impoverished the family that they were unable to afford schooling for him, so at 16 he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law. He soon set up trade as a weaver, which left him more time for his studies of theology. He was more attracted to mystical writers than to the Reformed scholars and preachers from his family’s tradition.
John Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology (1907) reports:
During the years 1719-24 he passed through a period of spiritual depression, at the end of which his faith in the reconciling grace of Christ became assured, and on Maundy Thursday, 1724, he wrote out a solemn covenant with God which he signed with his own blood. Previous to this, even before 1719, he had ceased to attend the ordinary services of the Reformed Church; and also absented himself from Holy Communion on the ground that he could not in conscience communicate along with open sinners. About the beginning of 1725 he began to speak at the prayer meetings which had been held at Mühlheim, since 1710, by Wilhelm Hoffmann, who was a candidate of theology (licensed preacher) of the Reformed Church. Tersteegen soon became known as a religious teacher among the “Stillen im Lande,” as the attenders on these meetings were called, and in 1728 gave up his handicraft in order to devote himself entirely to the translation of works by medieval and recent Mystics and Quietists, including Madame Guyon and others, and the composition of devotional books, to correspondence on religious subjects, and to the work of a spiritual director of the “awakened souls.” From this date to his death he was supported by a small regular income which was subscribed by his admirers and friends.
Many of Tersteegen’s sermons were collected and printed and he wrote 111 hymns, in addition to other religious poetry. This hymn (originally with 8 stanzas) was written after his conversion experience in 1724. The second stanza in our Hymnal was actually the sixth stanza in the original poem, and was translated in 1910 by Henry Sloan Coffin.
1. God Himself is with us;
Let us all adore him,
And with awe appear before him.
God is here within us;
Soul, in silence fear him,
humbly, fervently draw near Him.
Now his own who have known God,
in worship lowly,
yield their spirits wholly.
2. Thou pervadest all things;
let thy radiant beauty
light mine eyes to see my duty.
As the tender flowers
eagerly unfold them,
to the sunlight calmly hold them;
so let me quietly
in thy rays imbue me;
let thy light shine through me.
3. Come, abide within me;
let my soul, like Mary,
be thine earthly sanctuary.
Come, indwelling Spirit,
with transfigured splendor;
love and honor will I render.
Where I go here below,
let me bow before thee,
know thee and adore thee.
4. Gladly we surrender
Earth’s deceitful treasures,
pride of life and sinful pleasures:
gladly, Lord, we offer
thine to be forever,
soul and life and each endeavor.
Thou alone shall be known
Lord of all our being,
life’s true way decreeing.
Tersteegen apparently wrote this hymn with a particular tune in mind, but not the one that is used in our Hymnal. The tune ARNSBERG appears with this hymn in most hymnals.
Below is Andrew Remillard’s piano rendition of this hymn to the tune ARNSBERG..
Not much is known about the tune TYSK, other than its use at the German church in Stockholm as early as 1718. In several Scandinavian languages, the word “tysk” means simply “German.”
Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn to the tune TYSK.