Luther’s Hymn Based on Psalm 12 and the Preservation of the Words


Penned in 1523, Luther’s hymn elegantly reflects his interpretation of Psalm 12 and that of Jerome in the 4th c. and Ayguan in the 14th. The first strophe of the sixth stanza has as its antecedent the pure Word: “Thy Word, thou wilt preserve, O Lord, From this vile generation.”

Of this hymn Lambert references its importance to the Reformation: “This hymn, and its companion, Nun freut euch, greatly furthered the cause of the Reformation. Bunsen, 1833, says, it is ‘A cry, by the Church, for help, founded upon the Word of God, and as a protection against its contemners and corrupters.’ Its strong and passionate temper is easily estimated from Luther’s personal experiences.”[1]

Ach Gott bom Himmel sieh barein

“Look down, O Lord, from heaven behold”

Salvum me fac, Domine

“Lord, Save me!”

Psalm 12

Title: The Word of God, and the Church

The Silver seven times tried is pure

From all adulteration;

So, through God’s Word, shall men endure

Each trial and temptation:

Its worth gleams brighter through the cross,

And, purified from human dross,

It shines through every nation.

Thy truth thou wilt preserve, O Lord,

From this vile generation,

Make us to lean upon thy Word,

With calm anticipation.

The wicked walk on every side

When, ‘mid thy flock, the vile abide

In power and exaltation.[2]

[1] James Franklin Lambert, Luther’s Hymns (Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1917), 52.

[2] Lambert, Luther’s Hymns, 52.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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