How Heavy Is The Burden Made

How heavy is the burden made
That Thou upon our backs hast laid,
O God! the Lord of Hosts,
O God, whose anger rises high
‘Gainst workers of iniquity.

The burden is the cruel tide
Of war, that earth with blood has dyed,
And fill’d with bitter tears.
It is a fire that rages high
‘Neath suns of almost every sky.

The burden’s great and hard to bear,
But Thy strong arm and Father’s care
Are not to us unknown.
Thou punishest, but ‘mid the woe
Thou love and friendliness dost show.

But true to Thee must we abide,
For ne’er from us dost Thou quite hide
Thy saving health and light.
How many hast Thou given o’er,
We’ve oft been shielded by Thy pow’r.

In many a sad and weary hour,
When gath’ring clouds did o’er us low’r
Above our anxious heads,
Thou still’d’st the storm, whose mighty hand
Upholdeth sky and sea and land.

How often, Lord, by day and night,
Our enemies with craft and might
Have threaten’d us, Thy flock!
But, faithful Shepherd! Thou wast near,
Repell’dst the wolf and still’dst our fear.

Our brethren are compell’d to roam,
Are driven forth from house and home,
While we, Lord, still enjoy
Each one his seat beneath the shade
By his own vine and fig-tree made.

Behold! my heart, on every hand
The towns and fields of many a land
Are doom’d to ruin sure,
The homes of men are overthrown,
The houses of our God cast down.

But rest and order still remain
With us, and we can still maintain
The worship of our God.
God’s mind from out His holy word
‘Mongst us is daily taught and heard.

Whoever this doth not perceive,
But to the winds such thoughts doth give,
Who in such blessed light
No grace, no love, no goodness find,
How dark, thrice darken’d is their mind!

O gracious God! preserve us free
For aye from such stupidity;
Lord, give us gratitude,
That songs of praise in sweetest tone
We may present before Thy throne.

To nought we’ve done, or e’er can do,
To Thee-to Thee alone is due
The praise, O fount of love!
We’ve earned destruction from Thy face,
Thou deal’st with us in love and grace.

Oh! may we meditate Thy grace,
Till heart shall burn and tongue shall praise,
And give angelic zeal,
That every throbbing pulse may be
A note of praise, O Lord! to Thee.

But let the tide of woe recede,
Restore to us our joy, we plead,
May peace to us return.
How many in this vale of tears
Have never witness’d peaceful years!

Are we unworthy? then with Thee
We plead for helpless infancy,
Who wrong have never done.
Shall cradled infants feel the stroke,
Shall they endure the heavy yoke?

Have pity, Lord! oh, tender heart!
What heavy sighs, what bitter smart,
From our sad hearts are wrung!
No stone, our Saviour God art Thou,
How canst Thou so afflict us now?

How grievous are our wounds and sore,
They stink and fester more and more,
But Thou canst heal them all.
Pour in the oil of grace, that whole
Can make the body and the soul.

This wilt Thou do, we certainly
Believe, although we nowhere see
The means in all the world.
But Thou in our extremity
Dost find Thine opportunity.

Paul Gerhardt’s Spiritual Songs,