To Thee, Lord Jesus, only! Thy precious blood was shed to win, Full atonement for our sin. Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) hymn, “In the Very Midst of Life” (755) is based on a medieval hymn about death sung on days of supplication and prayer, and used as a battle song: Media vita in morte sumus (Latin: “In the midst of life, we are in death.”) The second part of the hymn is the Greek liturgy Trisagion (“thrice holy”) from the fifth century.
A German translation was published in 1480. Luther adapted the hymn, and added two stanzas confessing the confidence of faith in the grace of God through the blood of Christ and a cry for forgiveness. The tune is based on the medieval tune by Johann Walter (1496-1570), Luther’s kantor.
From every cross deliver, The crown of life impart. The HYMN TO DEPART, “Farewell I Gladly Bid Thee” (TLH 407), was written by Valerius Herberger (1562-1627) with the inscription:
“A devout prayer with which the evangelical citizens of Frawenstadt in the autumn of the year 1613 moved the heart of God the Lord so that He mercifully laid down His sharp rod of wrath under which nearly two thousand fell on sleep. And also a hymn of consolation in which a pious heart bids farewell to this world.”
The tune, often associated with “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (442), was actually written for this hymn around 1615 by Herberger’s kantor, Melchior Teschner.