Bayern, USA, Deutschland

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Catherine Winkworth, 1827-1878

July 22nd was the Feast of Mary Magdalene. A number of Christian women have blessed the Church throughout the ages. For German-American Lutherans, Catherine Winkworth is an important woman. She was born in England in the 19th century, and she is responsible for translating many German hymns into English. Page through the list of translators in The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, and Lutheran Service Book, and you will find her name listed for many hymn translations. She translated more German hymns than are found in our synodical hymals.

Her published works include: Lyra Germanica (1854), The Chorale Book for England (1863), and Christian Singers of Germany (1869). These three books brought the rich German hymnody into English-speaking churches.

Paul Gerhardt was a prominent Lutheran hymn writer. Many of his hymns have been translated into English and have been included in our Lutheran hymnals. One of Gerhardt's hymns that is found in the Kirchen-Gesangbuch fuer Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden (the hymnal used by the Missouri Synod until we transitioned to English) is entitled "I Know, my God, that all my Works". This hymn has never been included in any synodical English hymnal. Winkworth translated 6 of that hymn's 18 verses. I conclude with her translation of the first and second verses.

1. I know, my God, and I rejoice
That on Thy righteous will and choice
All human works and schemes must rest;
Success and blessing are of Thee,
What Thou shalt send is surely best!

2. It stands not in the power of man
To bring to pass the wisest plan
So surely that it cannot fail;
Thy counsel, Highest, must ensure
That our poor wisdom shall avail.

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