Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

Originally written as a German versification of the text Isaiah 40: 1-5, the text of this hymn was meant to show the promise of better days to come within the coming of the Messiah. The hymn was written by Johann Olearius in honour of St. John the Baptist day, and was published in the 1671 collection Geistliche Singe-Kunst.This collection contained nearly 1200 hymns, 300 of which came from Olearius himself. it wasn’t until nearly 200 years later that Catherine Winkworth translated this hymn from German to English and published it in her 1863 collection of translations Chorale Book for England. Known for her clean translations, Winkworth was good at maintaining the original form of the texts she translated1. Enjoy!

“Comfort, comfort all my people;
speak of peace,” so says our God.
“Comfort those who sit in darkness,
groaning from their sorrows’ load.
Speak to all Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell them that their sins I cover,
that their warfare now is over.”

All their sins our God will pardon,
blotting out each dark misdeed;
all that well deserved his anger
he no more will see or heed.
They have suffered many a day;
now their griefs have passed away.
God will change their aching sadness
into ever-springing gladness.

John the Baptist’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling people to repentance
for the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way;
let the Valleys rise to meet him
and the hills bow down to greet him.

Then make straight the crooked highway;
make the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
ready for his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now o’er earth is spread abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.


2 thoughts on “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

  1. Hey, thanks so much for the blog — I’m really enjoying it!! Just a note on the tune of “Comfort, comfort…” It started life as Psalm 42 in the Genevan Psalter, commissioned by John Calvin, in 1539, the first complete Psalter used for congregational singing! It’s a wonderful collection of tunes, most of which have been forgotten in the English speaking world, other than this one and … the Doxology (AKA the Old Hundredth, although even that number was an adaptation by the Scottish Psalter — it started out as the 134th in the French version!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s