Friday, May 9, 2008

"By Kindly Powers Surrounded" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1. By kindly powers surrounded, peaceful and true,
wonderfully protected with consolation dear,
safely, I dwell with you this whole day through,
and surely into another year.

2. Though from the old our hearts are still in pain,
while evil days oppress with burdens still,
Lord, give to our frightened souls again,
salvation and thy promises fulfill.

3. And shouldst thou offer us the bitter cup, resembling
sorrow, filled to the brim and overflowing,
we will receive it thankfully, without trembling,
from thy hand, so good and ever-loving.

4. But if it be thy will again to give
joy of this world and bright sunshine,
then in our minds we will past times relive
and all our days be wholly thine.

5. Let candles burn, both warm and bright,
which to our darkness thou has brought,
and, if that can be, bring us together in the light,
thy light shines in the night unsought.

6. When we are wrapped in silence most profound,
may we hear that song most fully raised
from all the unseen world that lies around
and thou art by all thy children praised.

7. By kindly powers protected wonderfully,
confident, we wait for come what may.
Night and morning, God is by us, faithfully
and surely at each new born day.

Bonhoeffer wrote this poem while he was in prison. I love how he is able to speak of God being good and ever-loving as he endured harsh conditions and didn't know what was going to happen to him. God gave him faith that endured through a lot of difficult times. The "cup" brings to mind Jesus' Gethsemane prayer. And Bonhoeffer expresses thanksgiving for the "kindly powers" that have surrounded him in his life--family, friends, colleagues, the woman he loved, etc.

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