O God, My Faithful God

Hymn of the Month for September

This Pastor's Pen article continues Pastor Cowell's "Hymn of the Month" series in which he shares a brief commentary on the theology and history behind some of the hymns we enjoy singing from the Lutheran Service Book.  The full text of the hymn is included at the bottom of the post.  
Albrecht Dürer, Betende Hände (Praying Hands), c. 1508. Public Domain.  
Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns records that O God, My Faithful God: 
was probably written during a most difficult time in [the writer] Johann Heermann’s life, between 1623 and 1630, when he was coping with a throat infection that also affected his nose and air passages and eventually prevented him from preaching his own sermons. This was also in the middle of the terrible Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which was particularly bad in Silesia, where Heermann (1585-1647) lived and served as pastor. The sufferings there were at their worst from 1623 to 1638, the period in which this hymn was written. (p. 939)

The text for the hymn was modeled after a poem/prayer written by a sixteenth century nobleman from Holstein. Nevertheless, the words of the hymn directly apply to the life circumstances of Heermann, and more generally to the lives of all Christians. 

Heermann, who suffered from physical sickness, prays in stanza one that God care for his needs both of body and soul:
Give me a healthy frame, / And may I have within
A conscience free from blame, / A soul unstained by sin. 
Although Heermann was no longer even physically able to preach the sermons he wrote, he also prays in stanza three that God would guard him from speaking hurtful, idle, or offensive words when he “must and ought to speak”.

As the Thirty Years’ War made enemies between denominations, territories, and even households, Heermann prays in stanza four:
Lord, let me win my foes / With kindly words and actions, 
Help me, as You have taught, / To love both great and small
And by Your Spirit’s might / To live in peace with all.
Likewise, while during the Thirty Years War up to sixty percent of populations in certain areas of Germany died of violence, sickness, or famine, Heermann faithfully prays in the final two stanzas that God would in the end give him a blessed death, a peaceful sleep in the grave, and a joyful resurrection to eternal life.

Although your Christian life is not likely as turbulent and full of suffering as that of our hymn writer, surely our Hymn of the Month: O God, My Faithful God can become a regular prayer of faith for you as you look to God for every good gift of body and soul.

Used throughout the devotion is content from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, Vol. 1 (CPH: 2019), p. 939-943.
O God, My Faithful God, LSB 696

Let me depart this life
    Confiding in my Savior;  
By grace receive my soul
    That it may live forever;  
And let my body have
    A quiet resting place    
Within a Christian grave;
    And let it sleep in peace.

And on that final day
    When all the dead are waking,
Stretch out Your mighty hand,
    My deathly slumber breaking.
Then let me hear Your voice,
    Redeem this earthly frame,
And bid me to rejoice
    With those who love Your name.

Tune and Text: Public Domain
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Thomas Cowell