The Seven Words of Highest Grace from Our Saviour on the Cross (1 of 7)

For the season of Lent, we offer our translations of Greiffenberg’s series based on the Seven Last Words of Christ. These “words,” or brief sayings, gathered from the four gospel accounts, are Christ’s last utterances on the cross. For centuries, Christians have used them in Lenten devotions. Many composers have set this group of texts to music.

The first: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)

Forgive, O Father, what they do to me.
The deed is wicked; yet my spilt blood is good
for the wicked, even for those who spilled it.
I offer it for those so keen to wound me:
life, in my blood, destroys the murderers' death.
My blood, a fiery passion for the world,
is also a wondrous flood that wipes out sin,
wringing forgiveness out of every drop.

If only they repent their evil, it will be atoned.
My grace rejoices in repentance and humility.
I want the power of my blood to serve all people:
none should forgo salvation, fearing their unworthiness.
Who is more unworthy than those who wound me?
Yet if they trust me, I will make them whole.

Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.

On My Sweetest and Dearest Lord Jesus, at New Year’s Time

Jesus, first among the first, and yet without beginning,
my soul's soul and spring, all nations' bliss and comfort!
May the highest good, your blood, be this year's foundation
of my thoughts and deeds, my goals and my intentions,
that whatever lives in me lives to praise you, O my Lord.
Let no vein pulse in me, except to serve you,
every breath bring praise to our Creator.
I will not let you go, O Jesus, until you are my all.
Although my hateful depths should make you turn from me,
your love, magnificent in faithfulness,
would sooner leave the father's lap than leave me lost.
O Joy! You gladly left God's glittering heaven for the wretched stable
to end our sin and misery.
You think on us eternally; help us in this time!

Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.

Categorized as New Year

New Year’s Thoughts: when, on Holy New Year’s Day, the moon was in Sagittarius

Greiffenberg’s inspiration for this sonnet apparently came from observing the night sky. Sagittarius is one of the constellations of the (western) zodiac; its pictorial emblem is a centaur with a bow and arrow. The reference to the Old Testament story of Gideon comes from Judges 6:36-40.

Strike, oh strike the target in my Fortune’s Wheel,
you heavenly inspiration, love-inflamed archer!
My mouth shoots out your praise and honour
like arrows from a bow.
Let no misfortune’s wind deflect their flight.
Grant sun-like steadiness to stay on course,
and when the weakened bow of my body breaks,
I won’t care as long as I’m resolved in my intent.
O bless now what is new in this New Year.
The devil has prepared a thousand arrows—
screw them into his heart! Instead,
let hosts of grace and help always attend me.
As rain on Gideon’s fleece, let blessings fall on me.
Appear with your new help in this New Year.

Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.

Categorized as New Year

On Holy New Year’s Day: The Great Comfort of Jesus’ Name

Jesus, be my only comfort, no matter what might be.
If I have you, I have all things: beloved Jesus Christ!
You, my strength and power, indeed my very life.
This year, let me be rooted in your grace,
and let your great star-counsel prove powerful in deed.
Your grace, our faith, make all things possible.
To you, all human might and craftiness are spider webs.
Speak to my request your powerful word: it will be done!

My hope has bloomed so long: provide, this year,
new fruits of joy and good fortune. What more can I desire
when I possess this gift: your love-ignited blood!
Is anything on earth so costly, sweet and precious?
Dear Jesus-child, let me abide forever in your grace,
no matter what in this whole world might come.

Click here to see this sonnet in the original German.

Categorized as New Year