Total Pageviews

17 December 2016

Poetry: Hans von Lehndorff


1. Komm in unsre stolze Welt,
Herr mit deiner Liebe Werben.
Überwinde Macht und Geld,
lass die Völker nicht verderben.
Wende Hass und Feindessinn
auf den Weg des Friedens hin.

2. Komm in unser reiches Land,
der du Arme liebst und Schwache,
dass von Geiz und Unverstand
unser Menschenherz erwache.
Schaff aus unserm Überfluss
Rettung dem, der hungern muss.

3. Komm in unsre laute Stadt,
Herr, mit deines Schweigens Mitte,
dass, wer keinen Mut mehr hat,
sich von dir die Kraft erbitte
für den Weg durch Lärm und Streit
hin zu deiner Ewigkeit.

4. Komm in unser festes Haus,
der du nackt und ungeborgen.
Mach ein leichtes Zelt daraus,
das uns deckt kaum bis zum Morgen;
denn wer sicher wohnt vergisst,
dass er auf dem Weg noch ist.

5. Komm in unser dunkles Herz,
Herr, mit deines Lichtes Fülle;
dass nicht Neid, Angst, Not und Schmerz
deine Wahrheit uns verhülle,
die auch noch in tiefer Nacht
Menschenleben herrlich macht.



1. Come, Lord, to our prideful sphere
with your love’s determined wooin',
pow'r and wealth to commandeer
lest the peoples go to ruin.
Turn our hate and hostile wrath,
lead us to a peaceful path.

2. Come, Lord, to our wealthy land,
you who love the poor and lowly,
that with greed and dullness banned
human hearts might waken slowly.
Use our affluence to carve
ways to rescue those who starve.

3. Come, Lord, to our noisy town,
come and bring your silent center,
so those who in anguish drown
might implore your strength to enter
their own course through noise and strife
heading to eternal life.

4. Come, Lord, to our solid stead,
as one naked and unguarded.
Just a tent around us spread,
used one night and then discarded.
Those who think they’re safe won’t say
that they still are on the way.

5. Come, Lord, to our hearts gone glum,
light from light in full revealing,
lest greed, fear, grief, pain become
tools that serve your truth’s concealing,
truth that e’en in deepest night
will make human lives shine bright.

German original by Hans Graf von Lehndorff, 1968; English translation by Fritz Wendt, 2016

Hans Count von Lehndorff (1910-1987) was a German physician, poet and pastor.  Raised in a wealthy family in East Prussia, he had his first experience with the Nazis when his mother was incarcerated for supporting a Lutheran pastor who had criticized the new regime. As a young doctor, von Lehndorff became an active member of the Confessing Church, and was aware of the plans to assassinate Hitler through a cousin who was involved.  During World War II, he was the head of a small military hospital in Königsberg (Kaliningrad), and saw unimaginable suffering when the Russian army captured and occupied the town.  

After the war ended, he was a church musician in East Germany (GDR), but after several decades was able to move to Bonn-Bad Godesberg, where he founded a small clinic and became active in hospital ministry.  Von Lehndorff wrote the poem above in 1968; it is a prayer reflecting the horrors of what he had seen during the war, but also the beginning of the Vietnam War (stirring national conversations, mostly among students, about how to maintain and secure peace) and Germany’s “economic miracle” with its new phenomenon, the migrant workers (leading to conversations about justice and income equality).   

No comments:

Post a Comment