Gott des Himmels und der Erden

translated as
God who madest earth and heaven

with GOTT DES HIMMELS

Origins. The original German text is by Heinrich Albert (1604–1651), first published in Fünffter Theil der Arjen oder Melodeyen Etlicher theils Geistlicher (Königsberg in Preüssen, 1642 | Fig. 1), with a melody also by Heinrich (GOTT DES HIMMELS). The complete text was in seven stanzas of six lines, headed “Morgen-Lied” (“Morning Song”). This is a beloved song in German. In 1861, a Dr. Cosack in Königsberg, where Heinrich spent his career and died, described the impact of the song there:

For two hundred years, it is hardly likely that a single day has greeted the earth that has not, here and there, in German lands, been met with Albert’s hymn. Hardly another morning hymn can be compared with it, as far as popularity and intrinsic value are concerned, if simplicity and devotion, purity of doctrine, and adaptation to all the circumstances of life are to decide.[1]

 

Fig. 1. Heinrich Albert, Fünffter Theil der Arjen oder Melodeyen Etlicher theils Geistlicher (Königsberg in Preüssen, 1642).

 

Translation. In English, the most popular translation has been “God who madest earth and heaven” by Catherine Winkworth (1827–1878), first published in Lyra Germanica (London: 1855 | Fig. 2). Winkworth’s text is a full and faithful translation.

 

Fig. 2. Lyra Germanica (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855).

 

In her book about German hymnody, Christian Singers of Germany (London: MacMillan, 1869), p. 184, Winkworth said of this hymn and its author:

Albert especially was a very distinguished musician, and he was the author of both the words and the flowing melody of that morning hymn, “God, who madest earth and heaven,” which is still not infrequently played at early morning in some of the quiet little German country towns or baths.

Winkworth revised her translation for The Chorale Book for England (London, 1863 | 2nd ed. shown at Fig. 3), where it was set to Albert’s tune, GOTT DES HIMMELS. In her original text of 1855, Winkworth had followed a meter of six lines of seven, or 7.7.7.7.7.7., but Albert’s German text and tune are 8.7.8.7.7.7., so most of the changes she made for the Chorale Book were for the purpose of more accurately following the meter of the original German. Some other changes are not metrical but are linguistic refinements.

Fig. 3. The Chorale Book for England with Supplement (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green, 1865).

The German tune is sometimes found in hymnals under the names GODESBERG or ALBERT or WALTHAM, either in triple or duple forms. The version known as WALTHAM (not to be confused with the tune by J.B. Calkin), reduces the original from six phrases to two (8.7.8.7.), and condenses the rhythms from triple to duple, and it is given in some hymnals with a harmonization by J.S. Bach (from Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248, Part 5, No. 11).

The shorter form of the tune is closely associated with “May the grace of Christ our Saviour” by John Newton (1725–1807). The full form is sometimes associated with “One there is above all others,” also by Newton.

by CHRIS FENNER
for Hymnology Archive
10 January 2019


Footnotes:

  1. Geschichte des Kirchenlieds und Kirchengesangs der christlichen, vol. 8, ed. Richard Lauxmann (Stuttgart: Belser, 1876), p. 186; translated as in “Heinrich Albert,” A Dictionary of Hymnology, ed. John Julian (London, 1892), p. 35.

Related Resources:

James Mearns, “Heinrich Albert,” A Dictionary of Hymnology, ed. John Julian (London, 1892), p. 35: Google Books

W.G. Polack, “God, who madest earth and heaven,” The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis: Concordia, 1942), p. 389-390.

J.R. Watson, “God, who madest earth and heaven,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
http://www.hymnology.co.uk/g/god-who-madest-earth-and-heaven

J.R. Watson, “Gott des Himmels und der Erden,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
http://www.hymnology.co.uk/g/gott-des-himmels-und-der-erden

“God, who madest earth and heaven,” Hymnary.org:
https://hymnary.org/text/god_who_madest_earth_and_heaven_father

GOTT DES HIMMELS, Hymnary.org:
https://hymnary.org/tune/gott_des_himmels_albert