Lenten Hymns and their Story

March 22, 2023

“A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth”

The earliest source of “Ein Lammlein geht und tragt die Schuld” by Paul Gerhardt (1607-76) is the 1647 edition of a songbook with the hymn bearing his name as author.  The devastation of the Thirty Years War [1618-48] was finally nearing an end.  Berlin was sinking deeper into political tension, as many of the church leaders left Lutheranism and "Justification by faith", for a teaching that favored man’s decisions for earning salvation.  Gerhart, in his own hand, wrote that he had hoped people would sing this hymn, and leave these false, dangerous ideas, of man’s earning salvation.  He was pointing to the necessary, deeply emotional teaching that we must always rely on Christ’s grace for redemption.
“A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth” is a profound example of Gospel comfort.   In 1944, Hildegard Schaeder was imprisoned by the Nazis for aiding and abetting Jews, she was soon listed for the gas chamber.  In the darkness of solitary confinement, and realizing her desperate condition, as she wrote to her mother, she recorded that her lips kept repeating the hymn, “A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth.”  She called it “my hymnal in my heart”; and they cannot take it from me.  I was going to sing it to my death.  She survived the war, dying to this world in 1984.  
This is about a dialogue between the Father and His Son that determines the final obedient sacrifice of the Son because of His Father’s divine love.  

A lamb goes uncomplaining forth, the guilt of sinners bearing and,
Laden with the sins of earth, none else the burden sharing;
Goes patient on, grows weak and faint, to slaughter led without complaint,
The spotless life to offer, He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies,
The mockery, and yet replies, “all this I gladly suffer.”

LSB 438

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