Our “Hymn Meditations” series highlights unfamiliar hymn texts that are profound in their poetry and rich in doctrine.
The hymn text for this week is “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People,” a paraphrase of the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. Its author is Johannes G. Olearius, Geistliche Singe-Kunst (Leipzig, Germany: 1671) (“Tröstet, tröstet meine Lieben”); translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, Chorale Book for England, 1863.
Comfort, comfort ye My people,
Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
Mourning ’neath their sorrow’s load;
Speak ye to Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover,
And her warfare now is over.
For the herald’s voice is crying
In the desert far and near,
Bidding all men to repentance,
Since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet Him,
And the hills bow down to greet Him.
Yea, her sins our God will pardon,
Blotting out each dark misdeed;
All that well deserved His anger
He will no more see nor heed.
She has suffered many a day,
Now her griefs have passed away,
God will change her pining sadness
Into ever springing gladness.
Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain:
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token
That His Word is never broken.