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

On Christ’s All-holy first shedding of blood, and the sweetest Name of Jesus

In this season of Epiphany, we decided to translate Greiffenberg’s sonnets for the new year. This one’s title seems to refer to the fact that, in liturgical churches, January 1 traditionally marked the Circumcision of Christ. Although this feast doesn’t get much attention these days, it’s still in the liturgical calendar, but now it’s called The Naming of Jesus. Luke 2:21 says, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (RSV).

Lovely morning glow drops crimson pearls
of childhood, and soon the Jesus-sun arises,
in whom God’s brightness mingles with love’s warmth.
His heart’s grace streams from this salvation-light.
Redemption’s vein of gold must flow, love-melted.
This wondrous child cries with desire and longing:
Will the hour of salvation ever come, when he
at last pours out his blood, a blessing-flood, for all?

Eternal godhead wrapped in a little cloud: this child.
Just as, from a great distance, the sun
seems small enough to grasp, so he, as God,
fills everything, yet will himself be cradled.
Peace will have no peace until it stills
all human misery, greed, and hate of God.

Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.

Categorized as New Year