During the Advent and Christmas season, we tend to sing a narrow selection of carols; therefore, it’s enriching to explore songs from other Christian traditions that may not be printed in one’s local church hymnal of choice. The hymn “O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide,” written in 1623 in Cologne, Germany, and translated by Martin L. Seltz (1909-67), appears in several Luthern hymnals. It captures the longing and groaning of God’s people for Christ’s arrival (“how long? how long?”; “We grope in gloom and dark of night”) as well as the glory of the Messianic King (“to Jacob’s line rain down the King”; “all our praises…to thee, our Savior King”).
1. O Savior, rend the heavens wide;
Come down, come down with mighty stride;
Unlock the gates, the doors break down;
Unbar the way to heaven’s crown.
2. O Father, dew from heaven send;
As gentle dew, O Son, descend.
Drop down, you clouds, and torrents bring:
To Jacob’s line rain down the King.
3. O earth, in flowering bud be seen;
Clothe hill and dale in garb of green.
Bring forth, O earth, this Blossom rare,
O Savior, rise from meadow fair.
4. O Fount of hope, how long, how long?
When wilt thou come with comfort strong?
O come, O come, high heaven forego;
Console us in our vale of woe.
5. O Morning Star, O radiant Sun,
When will our hearts behold thy dawn?
O Sun, arise; without thy light
We grope in gloom and dark of night.
6. Here dreadful doom upon us lies;
Death looms so grim before our eyes.
O come, lead us with mighty hand
From exile to our fatherland.
7. There will we all our praises bring
Ever to thee, our Savior King;
There will we laud thee and adore
Forever and forevermore.