BWV 178 Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält

Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Justus Jonas, verse 1 of the hymn, based on Ps. 124, 1524 (Wackernagel, III, #62); 2. verse 2 with interpolated recitative; 3. based on verse 3; 4. verse 4; 5. verse 5 with interpolated recitative; 6. based on verse 6; 7. verses 7 and 8 of the hymn.

30 July 1724, Leipzig.

BG 35; NBA I/18.

1. Chorus [Verse 1] (S, A, T, B)

Where God the Lord stands with us not,
Whene’er our foes are raging,
And he doth not our cause support
In heaven high above us,
Where he Israel’s shield is not
Nor himself breaks the foe’s deceit,
Then is our side defeated.

2. Chorale [Verse 2] and Recit. (A)

    What human power and wit contrive
    Shall us in no wise frighten;
For God the Highest stands with us
And setteth us from their devices free.
He sitteth in the highest seat,
    He shall expose their counsels.
Who God in faith embrace securely
Will he abandon never, nor forsake them;
He foils of wicked men their plans
And hinders all their evil deeds.
    When they most cunningly attack,
With serpent’s guile their artful schemes conceiving,
Their wicked purpose for achieving,
    God doth pursue another path:
He leads his people with his mighty hand,
The ocean crossing to the promised land,
When he will all misfortune banish.
    It stands in his hands’ power.

3. Aria (B)

Like as the savage ocean waters
Midst raging storm a ship will shatter,
So rageth, too, the foe’s deep wrath
To steal the soul’s most precious wealth;
They seek now Satan’s realm to broaden,
And Christ’s own little ship would scuttle.

4. Chorale [Verse 4] (T)

They lie in wait like heretics,
And for our blood are thirsting;
They claim that they are Christians, too,
Who God alone give worship.
Ah God, that precious name of thine
Must serve as capstone to their crime;
Thou shalt one day awaken.

5. Chorale [Verse 5] (S,A,T,B) and Recit. (B, T, A)

    They open wide their hungry jaws
As lions do, with roaring rage resounding;
They bare at us the fangs of killers,

    Intending to devour us.
And yet,

    Praise and thanks to God evermore;
Shall Judah’s hero shield us still,

    Their aim they’ll not accomplish!

They shall like unto chaff subside,
When once his faithful people like green trees shall stand.

    He shall their snares asunder break
    And their false doctrine bring to nought.

God will all vain and foolish prophets
With fire of his anger slay then
And bring their heresies to ruin.

    From God they’ll not defend it.

6. Aria (T)

Hush, hush then, giddy intellect!

    Say not, “The pious are now lost!”
    The cross did them but bring new birth.
    To all who put their trust in Jesus
    Stands e’er the door of blessing open;
    And when by cross and sadness pressed,
    They shall with comfort be refreshed.

7. Chorale [Verses 7 and 8] (S,A,T,B)

The foe are all within thine hand,
With them all their conceptions;
Their onslaughts are to thee, Lord, known,
But help us not to waver.
If mind opposing faith assail,
Henceforth shall its assurance fail,
For thyself thou wilt shalt help us.

Both heaven and the earth as well
Hast thou, Lord God, established;
Thy light for us let shine brightly,
Our hearts shall be enkindled
With proper love for thy great faith,
Until the end steadfastly thine.
The world let ever murmur.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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