successor to Philipp Jakob Spener – the “Father of Pietism” – in Frankfurt, DE (early 18th Century)
Regarding Stump’s translation, the translator of the 1921 Concordia Edition (W.H.T. Dau), had this to say in his Preface: “The translation is made from the German edition of Dr. Pieper of 1900. Comparison was possible to the translator only with the editions published by Kohler and the German Literary Board. Each of these editions has its distinct merit, the latter excelling by its faithful adherence to the original, its apt renderings, and happy paraphrases.” Regarding Starck, his Prayer-Book and Pieper’s endorsement of it, Dau comments further in his Preface, as follows:
“Starck loved nothing sensational, nothing that was for mere display in matters of religion. Christian life, to him, was real and earnest, to be conducted in a sober mind... While he maintained the confessional position of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and rejoiced to be a member of it, his teaching was tinged with the peculiarities of the Pietistic tendency... However, this defect occurs only occasionally, perhaps least in the Prayer-Book, and there are so many sections in Starck’s writings that are entirely free from error that Starck himself supplies the needed correction for his occasional deviations from the straight path of the sound doctrine.
“When Dr. F. Pieper, years ago, examined the Prayer-Book with a view to applying, wherever needed, this self-correction of Starck, this was done with no sacrilegious hand, but really to secure for Starck a fuller reward of his faithful labors for a sincere and zealous Christian life. The revisor really helped Starck to speak his full Christian mind everywhere, and to discard what was of inferior value or even misleading in his presentation of Christian truths...”Both Stump’s and Dau’s English editions included English hymns. I preferred neither that were included with the following devotion, so concluded it with my own selection from The Lutheran Hymnal.
JOHN FREDERICK STARCK’S
“DAILY HAND-BOOK IN GOOD AND EVIL DAYS”
CONTAINING ALL THE MEDITATIONS AND PRAYERS OF THE
COMPLETE GERMAN ORIGINAL EDITION
TOGETHER WITH AN APPROPRIATE SELECTION OF STANDARD ENGLISH HYMNS
FOR GENERAL USE, FOR THE AFFLICTED, THE SICK, AND THE DYING
REV. JOSEPH A. STUMP, A.M.
Pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Phillipsburg, NJ
German Literary Board
THE CHRISTIAN THANKS GOD
AFTER THE HARVEST HAS BEEN GATHERED.
For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness (Ho. 2:8-9).
IF there be a striking manifestation of God’s goodness which is apparent to all men, it is undoubtedly the annual harvest, when God, after having guarded the seed throughout the winter in the earth, having let it bloom and grow and bear fruit in the summer, and having warded off hail and damage by storm, fills barn and cellar with His blessings. But if there be a benefit of which the world makes light and for which it is least thankful to God, it is this very harvest. For ungrateful men imagine that it must be so; that according to the course of nature things must grow, and that God has nothing to do with it. For this reason God in just anger sometimes makes the harvest a failure, in order that all men may see that the ground cannot produce if He does not make it do so, and that nothing can grow without His blessing.
A Christian views the matter differently. When he beholds the full ears of grain, and the vines heavily laden with grapes, (1) he lifts his eyes to heaven, and praises the almighty Creator, Giver, and Preserver of these blessings, who from one grain has produced so many grains, and from an insignificant vine has brought forth such precious fruit. (2) He praises God’s Providence, which has sent the early and the latter rains in their seasons, warded off hurtful thunderstorms, drought, hail, and floods, and preserved the harvest. And when he now sees the grain harvested and hauled into the barn, and the grapes crushed in the wine-press, (3) he receives all these gifts with grateful heart and hands. (4) He uses them and enjoys them with thanksgiving. He acknowledges that God nourishes, sustains, and preserves him. (5) He lets the goodness of God lead him to repentance. If men are thankful to their fellow-men for the gift of clothing or food, and avoid offending their benefactors, why should not we give thanks to our greatest Benefactor, who gives us all things?
O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: and His mercy endureth for ever. Thus I say, O my God, now that I have seen another blessed harvest gathered. O gracious God, how great is Thy mercy to us! Thou hast laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever. And in this earth Thou hast laid Thy glorious treasures, and makest it bring forth the fruits which nourish and sustain us. Thou hast crowned this year abundantly with Thy goodness; and Thy paths drop fatness. Thou hast watered the hills from Thy chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Thy works. Thou hast caused the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that Thou mightest bring forth food out of the earth.
O faithful Father! Thou hast this year again bestowed upon us. Thy unthankful children, food and drink; Thou hast preserved the harvest. Heaven has heard the cry of the earth; and the earth has brought forth corn and wine. Thou hast given us the early and the latter rains in their seasons. And now our fields have bloomed and offered us the bounty with which Thy blessing covered them. Our trees have brought forth all manner of beautiful fruit, and the vine has made us glad. Loving God and Father, Thou hast spread the wings of Thy mercy over all the land: Thou hast let the sunshine ripen the crops, and hast protected them from hail and blight and drought and flood. When we slept. Thou didst wake; Thou wast Guardian and Keeper over our fields. O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches. All creatures, men and beasts, wait upon Thee, that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That Thou givest them, they gather; Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good.
Yes, abundantly indeed hast Thou, O God, blessed us this year with Thy gifts. And now we thank Thee from our inmost soul. O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Let us enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Let us say with grateful heart: The Lord hath done great things for us; yea, the Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. O Lord, Lord, grant us grace not to misuse these gifts and benefits which Thou hast bestowed, but to learn from them to appreciate Thy love and faithfulness toward us. And if, O God, some unthankful souls should abuse Thy gifts by gluttony or intoxication, do not on that account withdraw Thy blessing from us, but preserve it unto us according to Thy mercy.
O Father, who hast loved us with an everlasting love, and who through these bodily blessings also hast drawn us with loving-kindness, desiring that in the gifts we may recognize the Giver, and in the benefits the Benefactor; grant, that Thy goodness may lead us to repentance, and that, whenever we see Thy gifts before us on the table or take them into our hands or mouth, we may lift up our eyes to Thee, the Fountain of all blessings. And as by these gifts Thou dost sustain our body, so let us be nourished and strengthened in the inward man, and increase in faith and love and holiness through the means of grace which Thou hast ordained; that we may grow in all goodness, and be changed from glory to glory, till at last we shall be admitted to the enjoyment of the heavenly blessings of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Amen.
O Lord, whose bounteous hand again
Hath poured Thy gifts in plenty down,
Who all creation dost sustain
And all the earth with goodness crown,
Lord of the harvest, here we own
Our joy to be Thy gift alone.
Oh, may we ne’er with thankless heart
Forget from whom our blessings flow!
Still, Lord, Thy heav’nly grace impart;
Still teach us what to Thee we owe.
Lord, may our lives with fruit divine
Return Thy care and prove us Thine.
Lord, grant that we who so to Thee
With joy in endless life may reap.
Of ev’ry heart the Guardian be;
By day and night Thy servants keep
That all to Thee may joy afford
On thy great harvest-day, O Lord.
The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), #567
Text: Ps. 65:9