“Das alte Jahr vergangen ist” or
“The old year now hath passed away”
“In dir ist Freude” or “In Thee Is Gladness”
For this week I picked a couple old Lutheran hymns that are associated with the New Year. The first one — “Das alte Jahr vergangen ist” or “The old year now hath passed away”– is not what you might think of as a typical song for New Year’s. It’s not exactly cheerful; it’s a little dark in tone. Considering that 2020 was such a hard year for so many people here and around the world, I thought this would be a good one to think about.
Here’s Catherine Winkworth’s English translation of the first stanza:
1 The old year now hath passed away;
We thank Thee, O our God, today
That Thou hast kept us through the year
When danger and distress were near.
And here is my recording of the hymn (not in our hymnal — and not in many hymnals today). I’m playing a verse of Bach’s harmonization of the tune followed by his chorale prelude from his Orgelbuchlein:
And then the other hymn I picked is another old Lutheran one –“In dir ist Freude” or “In Thee Is Gladness” — which is much more joyful. This one isn’t in our hymnal either, but it is in many hymnals of other denominations. Anyway, I thought it would be a really nice to contrast this hymn with the other one — since hopefully 2021 will be a much happier year than 2020 was. And I didn’t have to think of this pairing myself — “In dir ist Freude” is actually on the next page in Bach’s Orgelbuchlein after “Das late Jahr.” (Thank you, Bach!) I decided to wait for another time to do his chorale prelude on the tune though — I’ll have to wait for a week when I have a little more practice time. Here, instead is my recording of Marcel Dupre’s short chorale prelude on the tune (used as an introduction) and two verses of the hymn (again with the translation of the words by Catherine Winkworth) if you’d like to sing along at home. Thanks very much for listening, guys!
1 In thee is gladness amid all sadness,
Jesus, sunshine of my heart!
By thee are given the gifts of heaven,
thou the true redeemer art!
Our souls thou wakest, our bonds thou breakest,
who trusts thee surely hath built securely,
and stands forever: Hallelujah!
Our hearts are pining to see thy shining,
dying or living to thee are cleaving,
naught can us sever: Hallelujah!
2 If he is ours, we fear no powers,
nor of earth, nor sin, nor death.
He sees and blesses in worst distresses;
he can change them with a breath.
Wherefore the story, tell of his glory,
with heart and voices all heav’n rejoices
in him forever: Hallelujah!
We shout for gladness, triumph o’er sadness,
love thee and praise thee,
and still shall raise thee
glad hymns forever: Hallelujah!