How Can It Be My Highest Light

How can it be, my highest Light!
That as before Thy face so bright
All things must pale and vanish,
That my poor feeble flesh and blood
Can summon a courageous mood
To meet Thee, and fear banish?

But dust and ashes what am I?
My body what but grass so dry?
What good the life I’m living?
What can I with my utmost pow’r?
What have I, Lord! from hour to hour
But what Thyself art giving?

I am a poor and feeble worm,
A straw, the lightest passing storm
Could drive away before it.
When Thou Thy hand, that all doth stay,
Dost on me e’er so lightly lay,
I know not how t’ endure it.

Lord! I am nought, but Thou art He
Who art all-all belongs to Thee,
And live and move I ever
In Thee-if Thou me terrifi’st,
No store of grace to help suppli’st
I can recover never.

I am unjust, but true Thy heart,
I evil am-Thou holy art,
This thought should shame be giving,
That I in such an evil stand,
Should from Thy mild paternal hand,
The least good be receiving.

Nought else but ill from infancy
Up e’en till now I’ve done to Thee,
In sin was I begotten;
And didst Thou not in faithfulness
My sin remit, and me release,
Lost were I and forgotten.

Let boasting then be far from me,
What is Thy due I render Thee,
To Thee alone be glory!
O Christ! may while I live below
My spirit, and what thence may flow,
With reverence adore Thee.

And if aught hath been done by me
That is well done, it came from Thee,
My pow’r could do it never.
Thee thanks and honour, Lord! I bring,
All my life long Thy praise I’ll sing,
And tell Thy glory ever.

Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs,