Wednesday, August 20, 2008

All for Christ I Have Forsaken

Among the hymns submitted for consideration by the Hymnody Committee for what eventually became Lutheran Service Book where a number of Asian hymns.  One such batch of hymns was submitted by Pastor Don Baron of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Honolulu, Hawaii.  His direct and literal translation of a hymn by Calvin Chao is printed below in italics on the right; my English poetical version is on the left (LSB 753).  The tune SHANGHAI, the name listed in the Chinese hymnal from which the text was taken, is the same tune also known as RESTORATION.

1.  All for Christ I have forsaken     I have forsaken all things
        And have taken up my cross; And taken up my cross to follow Jesus.
    Worldly joy, its fame and fortune, The world's joys, reputation, riches
        Now I count as worthless dross. Have become as refuse to me.

2.  Who is sweeter than Christ Jesus? The Lord has never failed me, not forsaken me;
         No good thing in Him I lack! Who is sweeter than my Lord?
     Hand to plow, at peace I follow Why should my heart fear and tremble?
        Where He leads me...why look back? Why look back, having put my hand to the plow?

3.  Gone the past, unknown the future-- The past is gone, the future still remote;
        Grace supplies my daily breath; The Lord's grace is sufficient for me.
     Strong in Christ through death's dark valley,   His hand will support me through death's valley;
        Firm and faithful unto death. While in this mortal body, I will be faithful.

4.  When God takes me home to heaven, If He takes my spirit home
        Should this be the day I die, It is no loss if I die in His will.
     God will keep my spouse and children Though I leave widow and orphans behind
        As the apple of His eye. The Lord will care for them and carry on His work.

5.  Though the road ahead be thorny, The road ahead may be thorny,
        Though dark clouds all light obscure, Dark clouds dense, no ray of light,
     Though my cross-shaped path grows steeper,   The way of the cross ever harder,
        With the Lord, I am secure. But I walk ahead without alarm.


Orianna Laun said...

The original translation has some very strong images. Your poetical version has retained those ideas very well.

amelithpastor said...

Some of the images are unique: hand to plow, God's care for the widow and orphans, etc. I also like the final stanza. The tune underscores the contemplative, "theology of the cross" nature of the text.