Lord, let at last Thine angels come The HYMN TO DEPART, “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart” (708), is a magnificent confession of the Christian Faith.
Written by Martin Schalling (1532-1608) in 1567, it is described “justly ranking among the classic hymns of Germany, a jewel of the Church from the heart of Schalling.” Based on Psalm 18 and 73, it is the Christian’s confession of Christ, a prayer to keep us from false doctrine and the temptation of Satan.
The final stanza is a comfort for Christians at death. It is prayed by the pastor at the bedside in the commendation of the dying. Our Lord will keep us safe in peaceful sleep until He comes again: “And then from death awaken me, That these mine eyes with joy may see, O Son of God Thy glorious face.” The Lutheran composer Johann Sebastian Bach brings his St John Passion to a heartwarming and thrilling conclusion with the chorus singing this final stanza.
Lord, have mercy! One type of German hymn at the time of the Reformation was the “leisen hymn.” These hymns ended with the phrase “Kyrieleis,” a contraction of the Greek phrase: “Kyrie eleison” = “Lord, have mercy.” Martin Luther (1483-1546) uses this form in a number of his hymns.
The HYMN OF THE DAY, “To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray” (768) by Luther is an example of a “leisen hymn.” The first stanza is based on the Latin Sequence “Veni, Sancte Spiritus.” Luther adapted the stanza, and added three to it, invoking the Holy Ghost as the precious Light, sweetest Love, and transcendent Comfort.
The tune was written for the text and was used with Luther’s version in Johann Walter’s 1524 hymnal.