Hymn of the week: What shall we offer our good Lord

‘What shall we offer our good Lord’ is John Wesley’s translation of August Spangenberg’s hymn ‘Der Konig ruht, und schauet doch’, written in 1734 and published in 1737. It is based on verses 11, 12 and 13 of Spangenberg’s original. Wesley’s translation was first published in Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1742, headed ‘God’s Husbandry. From the German.’

Wesley and Spangenberg were contemporaries in Georgia. The New Methodist Hymn-Book Illustrated writes of the author:

“Spangenberg was the son of a Lutheran pastor at Klettenberg, studied theology at the University of Jena, and in 1732 went to Halle as adjunct at the theological faculty and superintendent of the Orphanage Schools. He associated himself with the Separatists, was expelled from Halle in 1733, and joined the Moravians at Herrnhut. In 1735 he went with the Moravian colony to Georgia. He married one of the Sisters in 1740, and founded the first Moravian settlement in England at Smith House, Yorkshire. In 1744 he was consecrated Moravian bishop for North America, and gave about eighteen years to the work in Pennsylvania and among the Indians. He died at Berthelsdorf, near Herrnhut.”

We shall be singing this as the final hymn at Camden Town on Sunday. The theme of the service is ‘Sowing seeds’ and this is particularly reflected in the words of verses 3 and 4.

What shall we offer our good Lord,
Poor nothings, for his boundless grace?
Fain would we his great name record,
And worthily set forth his praise.

Great object of our growing love,
To whom our more than all we owe,
Open the fountain from above,
And let it our full souls o’erflow.

Open a door which earth and hell
May strive to shut, but strive in vain;
Let thy word richly in us dwell,
And let our gracious fruit remain.

O multiply the sower’s seed!
And fruit we every hour shall bear,
Throughout the world thy gospel spread,
Thy everlasting truth declare

So shall our lives thy power proclaim,
Thy grace for every sinner free;
Till all mankind shall learn thy name,
Shall all stretch out their hands to thee.

August Gottlieb Spangenberg (1704-92) tr. John Wesley (1703-91)


About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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