Beside Thy Cradle Here I Stand (J. S. Bach: Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier, BWV 469)
1. Now at the manger here I stand,
My Jesus, Life from Heaven!
I stand, and bring Thee in my hand
What Thou to me hast given.
Take it, it is my mind and wit,
Heart, soul, and all I have, take it,
And deign to let it please Thee!
2. With Thy great love beyond compare,
My soul Thou fillest ever,
Thy glance so sweet, Thine image fair,
My heart forgetteth never.
How otherwise e’er could it be,
How could I ever banish Thee,
From my heart’s throne, O Saviour!
3. Ere ever I began to be,
Thou hadst for me appearèd,
And as Thine own hadst chosen me
Ere Thee I knew or fearèd.
Before I by Thy hand was made,
Thou hadst the plan in order laid,
How Thou Thyself shouldst give me.
4. I lay still in death’s deepest night,
Till Thou, my Sun, arising,
Didst bring joy, pleasure, life, and light,
My waken’d soul surprising.
O Sun! who dost so graciously
Faith’s goodly light to dawn in me
Aye cause; Thy beams how beauteous!
5. With rapture do I gaze on Thee,
Ne’er can enough adore Thee,
Pow’r more to do is not in me,
I’ll praise and bow before Thee.
Oh! that my mind were an abyss,
My soul a sea, wide, bottomless,
That so I might embrace Thee.
6. Oh! let me kiss that mouth of Thine,
My Jesus, Saviour gracious!
Thy mouth that e’en the sweetest wine,
And milk and honey precious,
In pow’r and virtue doth excel,
Of comfort, strength, and sap ’tis full,
And inwardly refreshes.
7. When oft my heart within doth cry,
No comfort can discover,
It calls to me, Thy friend am I,
Thine ev’ry sin I cover;
My flesh and bone, why mournest thou?
Let thy heart be of good cheer now,
Thy debt, I have discharg’d it.
8. Who is the Master, where is he,
Who in perfection sketcheth
The hands this infant dear to me
Now smilingly outstretcheth?
The snow is clear, and milk is white,
But both lose all their value quite
Before these hands so beauteous.
9. Oh! wisdom fails me utterly
For honouring and praising
The eyes this infant fixedly
To mine is ever raising.
The fall moon, it is clear and fair,
The golden stars most beauteous are,
But these eyes far excel them.
10. Oh! that a star so passing fair
Should in a crib be holden!
Who mighty nobles’ children are
Should lie in cradles golden!
Ah! hay and straw too wretched are,
Silk, velvet, purple better far,
Were for Thee, Child! to lie on.
11. Remove the straw, remove the hay,
From where the child reposes,
And flow’rs I’ll bring that lie He may
On violets and roses.
With tulips, pinks, and rosemary,
From goodly gardens pluck’d by me,
I’ll from above bestrew Him.
12. And snow-white lilies here and there
His side shall be thrown over;
When closed His eyes with slumber are,
Them shall they softly cover.
But Thou mayest love the grass so dry,
My Child! more than the things that I
Have spoken or have thought of.
13. Not for the world’s pride dost Thou care,
Nor joys the flesh doth offer;
In human form Thou liest there,
For us to do and suffer,
Seek’st joy and comfort for my soul,
While waves of trouble o’er Thee roll;
I never will Thee hinder.
14. One thing I hope Thou’lt grant to me,
My Saviour! ne’er deny me,
That I may evermore have Thee
Within, and on, and by me.
And let my heart Thy cradle be,
Come, come and lie Thou down in me,
With all Thy joys and treasures!
15. ’Tis true, that I should think how poor
And mean my entertaining,
Than dust and ashes I’m no more,
Thou mad’st, art all-sustaining,
Yet Thou’rt a guest belov’d and priz’d,
For never yet hast Thou despis’d