Martin Luther – If God Were Not Beside Us Now


IF GOD WERE NOT BESIDE US NOW – By Martin Luther 1524

From Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth page 17-18:
Luther’s friend Justus Jonas in 1524 wrote an eight-stanza paraphrase of Psalm 124. In contrast to the smooth-flowing style of Jonas, Luther also undertook the paraphrasing of the same psalm, his being shorter, more rugged, and closer to the text of the psalm. After Luther’s version was published in Walter’s Wittenberg hymnal of 1524, both his and Jonas’ paraphrases were included in early Lutheran hymnals. Walter’s tune is the one most associated with this text.

Tr. F. Samuel Janzow, 1913-2001
Setting by Richard Hillert
Publisher: Concordia Publishing House (1979)

By Martin Luther 1524

1. If God were not beside us now,
so Israel is saying,
If God were not beside us now,
our state would be dismaying.
We are a weak and shrinking band
looked down upon on ev’ry hand
By those bent to destroy us.

2. So set against us in their will,
that if God’s help had tarried,
They would have ground us in their mill
and long since had us buried,
Like victims of a rolling tide
when sudden dark waves inland ride
To trample all beneath them.

3. Thank be to God,
who did not let their eager jawbones snatch us.
Like birds our souls escaped their net,
no snare of their can catch us.
Their traps are broken, we are free;
God stands us beside us with the key
To His good earth and heaven.

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