Be Still, My Soul

Today’s hymn is a suggestion from a subscriber. Little is known about the author of this hymn. Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel was born in 1697 and the date of her death is unknown. Some hymnologists suggest that she may have become a Lutheran nun. We know her as the author of “Stille, mein Wille; dein Jesus hilft siegen” published in a collection entitled Neue Sammlung geistlicher Lieder (A new collection of spiritual songs) in 1752, one of several of her texts included there. This text appears at the time of German pietism, similar in spirit in many regards to the Wesleyan revival in England of the same era. Philipp Jacob Spener (1635-1705) led the German pietistic movement. Though not a hymn writer himself, he inspired a revival in German hymnody characterized by faithfulness to Scripture, personal experience, and deep emotional expression. Katharina von Schlegel is thought to be the leading female hymn writer of this period. The hymn comes to us via a translation by Jane L. Borthwick (1813-1897), a member of the Free Church of Scotland1.

Be still, my soul;
The Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross
Of grief or pain;
Leave to your God
To order and provide;
In ev’ry change
He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul;
Your best, your heav’nly friend
Through thorny ways
Leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul;
Your God will undertake
To guide the future
As he has the past;
Your hope, your confidence,
Let nothing shake;
All now mysterious
Shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul;
The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled
Them while he lived below.

Be still, my soul;
When dearest friends depart
And all is darkened
In the vale of tears,
Then you will better
Know his love, his heart,
Who comes to soothe
Your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul;
Your Jesus can repay
From his own fullness
All he takes away.

Be still, my soul;
The hour is hast’ning on,
When we shall be
Forever with the Lord,
When disappointment,
Grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot,
Love’s purest joys restored.
Be still my soul;
When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed
We shall meet at last.

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