This was sung by our choir last night at an evensong. I was struck by the intense desire to “depart and be with Christ” (Phil 1.23) and found myself wondering what Bach was going through to give him such deep insight into the emptiness of worldly pleasure contrasted with the exceeding majesty of Christ. Read the whole thing as a devotional excercise. Perhaps if the recording equipment worked out well then I will post our choir singing it. As for now, you’ll just have to read it. It is deeply moving.
Come, sweet hour of death,
when my spirit
feeds on honey
from the lion’s mouth;
make my departure sweet,
do not delay,
so that I may kiss my savior
World, your pleasure is a burden
I hate your sweetness as if it were a poison,
your joyful light
is my star of ill omen
and where your roses are gathered
there are thorns beyond counting
to cause my soul anguish
Pale death is for me the glow of dawn
with which arises for me the sun
of glory and heavenly delight.
Therefore I truly sigh from the bottom of my heart
only for the final hour of death.
I desire to pasture soon with Christ,
I desire to depart from this world
is to embrace the saviour
and soon to be with Christ.
although as mortal ashes and earth
I may be crushed by death,
the pure light of my soul will
Then be resplendent like the angels.
The decisions already made,
and if I can only gain consolation
by dying soon in Jesus’ arms,
He is my sweet sleep.
The cool tomb will cover me with roses
until Jesus awakens me,
until he leads his sheep
to the sweet pastures of life
so death does not separate me from him!
Therefore dawn, sweet day of death,
therefore sound, stroke of the last hour!
If it is the will of my God
I wish that the burden of my body
may this day fill the earth
and that my spirit, the body’s guest,
may be clothed in immortality
in the sweet joy of heaven.
Jesus, come take me from here!
May this be my last word.
The body indeed in the earth
will be eaten by worms,
but it will be awakened,
transfigured in beauty through Christ
it will shine like the sun
and live without anguish
in the joy and delight of heaven.
What harm then can death do to me?