Songs from the Ausbund

As translated by Peter Hoover, quoted from his book The Secret of Their Strength, published by Benchmark Press, 1593 Pinola Road, Shippensburg, PA 17257

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Look at Christ the friendly knight! Look at the captain! The battle, when you come to this place, is fierce. The enemies -- the world, the flesh, sin, the devil, and death -- close in around you. But leap to your captain's side! He will kill the enemies! He will help you out of all distress. Stay with your flag! Do not let them drive you back from your captain, Jesus Christ! If you want the crown and the glory, and if you want to triumph with him, you must suffer and die with him too. They caught Christ our captain and beat him. In like manner they mistreat us, his followers. The hour of distress has come upon all the earth. They hunt us out. In almost every country they try to catch us because we stand for Christ. They try to keep Christ from coming to help us, barricading all the roads until they have us. Then the strangling and the stabbing, the gruesome violence begins. But wait, our captain, he will avenge it! He will break the power of the enemy, and he will stand with his little flock!

All you beloved knights of God, be strong! Be manly in the fight! This dreadful storm will not be long. Stand fast! Stand true to death! Do not allow them to drive you back. Men and women, trust in God!

-- Ausbund 78

We cry to you, Lord God, and tell you about our distress here in the tower and stocks into which they have put us. We used to have a nice place. You used to let us see your treasure -- that great treasure you give us in eternal life, and for which we strove. That treasure is the Gemeinschaft once held in your commune when we all lived together, keeping your Word in such a way that not one false person could stand to live among us. We held all things in common. No one said, "This is mine alone." We shared everything. . . .

Your children were glad to live this way but Satan did not leave them alone. . . . He chased them away from it and now afflicts them without mercy, saying, "Stand off from this heresy, this error and mob action which has led you astray. Stand off and we will let you live. We will return your goods to you." But oh God, we do not want to do that. Even if it should cost us our hides and hair, our bodies, our children and wives, we will stay with you.

You will give us everything again in the land into which you will lead those of us who touch no unclean thing and who have not allowed ourselves to be led astray.

-- Michael Schneider, Auspitz, written in the prison in Passau, Ausbund, 1564 edition

Man, are you tired of being sad? Start doing what is right. Sin brings eternal pain, and one needs to fight it. Be serious! Get to know yourself first. Purify your heart and be humble. Then men may call you great.

It is difficult for the one who loves to talk to get to know himself. If he would think of who he is, he would not have so much to say. Look at yourself! Leave the rest. Do not gossip. Be quiet . . . so that in the end you may not be put to shame. What you measure out will be measured to you. Christ treats all men fairly. No sin remains unpunished. Therefore fear God and keep his commands. No good deed remains without its reward. Pray for grace, early and late, and pray that we may be spared. If you want to be saved, keep away from sin! To be carnally minded is death. Leave the world! Leave your possessions! Leave your goods and your money! The one who thinks of death chooses the best and Christ earns grace for him.

God will not forsake the one who lives in the truth. God is ready to hear us if we hate sin. Oh Jesus Christ, it is your spirit that comforts us. Do not leave us! Be merciful to us and intercede for us . . . as we near the end of time.

-- Othmar Roth, Sankt Gallen in Switzerland, 1532, Ausbund 58

Prepare us for the nighttime meal, oh God, through Christ your beloved Son! Clothe us with your Spirit. Free us from death and suffering! When we shall eat at last of that nighttime meal, who shall wait upon us? The one who knows our hearts and redeems us from our sin!

Blessed are those invited to the Lord's nighttime meal! Blessed are those who stay with Christ through all tribulation. He suffered. He hung on the cross, and those who follow him must suffer now. Oh Lord, give us pure love! Give us love to walk our way with joy! When our time comes to go, may we not, like the foolish virgins, find that the door to the feast has been closed. They cried, "Lord! Lord!" But their oil had run out while they were sleeping.

Blessed is the one who watches with the wise virgins. He will inherit eternal possessions, and his eyes will see the clarity of God. The king will break out with a trumpet blast! The elect will join his parade! Therefore Zion, holy commune, look at what you have received! Hold it and keep yourself pure. Then you shall inherit the crown!36

-- George Blaurock (Cajacob), Ausbund, 5:22-33

Listen to me, all peoples of the earth. Listen to me, young and old, great and small. If you want to be saved, you need to leave sin, follow Christ the Lord, and live according to his will. Christ Jesus came to the earth to teach men the right way to go, to teach them to turn from sin and to follow him. He said: "I am the way the truth and the life, no-one comes to the father except through me."

He who longs for Gemeinschaft (community) with Christ and who wants to take part in his kingdom, needs to do what Christ did while he was on the earth. He who wants to reign with Christ must first be willing to suffer for his name. The man who dies with Christ in this life will enter with him into the Father's kingdom, in eternal joy. But the man who does not follow Christ is not redeemed by the blood of Christ and his sins will never be forgiven. Those whose sins have been forgiven should live no longer in sin. This is what Jesus Christ, our Lord, teaches us. Those who fall back into sin break their covenant with God. Even greater pain and suffering will be theirs -- and their loss will be forever. Not all who say "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom. Only those who keep his covenant will be accepted by him. He who confesses Christ before the world and who stands for the truth to the end will be saved.

Help us to that, God, our Lord, that we may stay with Christ -- that we may always walk according to his teachings, that we may commit no more sins, and that we may be an honour to his name, now and forever . . . into eternity! Amen.

--  Michael Schneider, imprisoned in the castle at Passau in Bavaria, Ausbund 82

Listen to how one receives Christ. You need to make a covenant with him. In the depths of your heart you need to turn from sin. Then you will be clean. Christ will come to you and show you his Spirit -- and he will bear you again.

-- Hans Betz, Ausbund 107:22

Where shall I go? I am so ignorant (Ich bin so dumm). Only to God can I go, because God alone will be my helper. I trust in you, God, in all my distress. You will not forsake me. You will stand with me, even in death. I have committed myself to your Word. That is why I have lost favour in all places. But by losing the world's favour, I gained yours. Therefore I say to the world: Away with you! I will follow Christ.

It was long enough, world, that I floated about in you, oh treacherous sea. You deceived me long enough. You detained me. While I was a slave to sin, and wronged God, you loved and honoured me. But now you hate me. I have become a spectacle to the world. Everyone in every place shouts "Heretic!" after me, because I love God's Word. But I have no greater treasure than God's Word, so I will not allow myself to be turned from it -- to be turned away from my God and my Lord. I will keep on being "obstinate."

I have no place left to me on the earth. Wherever I go I must be punished. Poverty is my fortune. Cross and sorrow have become my joy. Bonds and imprisonment have become my garment. Such is the heraldry of my king!

Even among animals of the forest I find no rest. People chase me up and drive me away. I cannot come into any house. People drive me out. I must duck and dodge and creep about like a mouse. All my friends have forsaken me. All streets are barred for me. The people are determined to capture me as soon as they find me. I suffer at their hands. They rough me up and beat me. They hate me without a cause.

The people begrudge me the crumbs from their tables. They are unwilling to let me drink water from their wells, and they do not want me to enjoy as much as the light of the sun. I have no peace among them. They will not let me enter their doors. They are ashamed of me because I choose to follow Christ.

I am sold into the hands of my enemies and betrayed above all by those to whom I have done the most good. I served them cheerfully by day and by night. But now they lead me like a lamb to the slaughter. I sought their salvation but they rejected my efforts. They curse me for it and drive me away. They drive me into distress . . . out of their houses, their fields, their woods, and their forests. Wherever I lodge they chase me out. They treat me brutally. They hunt me like a man hunts a deer. They set traps for me and search for me, ready to hit me over the head, stab and bind me. I am forced to forsake my shelter and go out into the rain and the wind.

Even those who want to be Christians condemn me. Because of God's name they expel me out of their church. The hypocritical masses make a fool out of me. They say I belong to the devil and that I do not have a God. They do all this because I hate their sectarian and treacherous ways, and because I avoid the way of sin people raise a great cry after me: "Heretic, get out of here!" They throw my past sins before me and say: "Let the hangman dispute with him!" They put me on the rack and torture me. They tear my body apart.

God, will you not kindly look into this and see what the people are doing? I commend myself to you and leave myself in your hands...

God, I pray from my heart that you would forgive the sins of those who trouble me. And do keep all your children safe, wherever they are in this valley of sorrows -- driven apart, tortured, imprisoned, and suffering great tribulation. Father, most precious to my heart, lead us into the promised land. Lead us out of all pain and martyrdom, anguish, chains, and bonds into your holy commune. There you alone will be praised by the children you love: those who live in obedience to you! Amen.

-- Christoph Bauman, Switzerland, Ausbund, 76

That which Adam lost, we find again in Christ, beautifully adorned and clear.

-- Ausbund, 51:6

Oh God Father, on heaven's throne, you have prepared for us a crown if we stay in your Son, if we suffer with him the cross and the pain, if we surrender ourselves to him in this life and if we struggle continually to enter into his community. You tell us what we need to know, through your Son, if we have community with him. . . .

You gave your beloved Son to us to be our head. He has marked out for us the road we should take, so that we would not lose our way and find ourselves outside of his community . . . Therefore, Christians, oh little flock, let us all look together at how he walked before us here on the earth. Let us become like him in love and in suffering. Let us keep our covenant with him and not stay away from eating his flesh and his blood.

His flesh and his blood, the food he gave us, must be understood like this: In eating his flesh and blood, the Spirit brings us into community with him. . . . God redeems us together with Christ. He serves us through his Son. His Son is the rock and the cornerstone of the house of his commune -- his wife, his companion and his love, through whom he works on the earth. . . . Therefore come! Come all you newborn Christians! Come in sincerity to Christ the passover lamb, whose kingdom and community shall never end!

All the members of the body of Christ do his work and his will . . . even unto death. They have all become one bread with Christ, the bread that is broken like he was broken on the cross for our sins. Christ is the bread of life. He gave his flesh and his blood for us, and the Spirit teaches us how to eat it right. . . .

The lamb is eaten with sorrow and bitter herbs, for he who will not suffer with Christ, and he who keeps himself back from eating his flesh and his blood -- he who worries about the cross or tribulation -- cannot find the body of Christ. The Lamb must be eaten completely. Nothing shall be left, from the beginning to the end. In all distress and need, we dare not turn away from the Lamb. We are to stay in closest unity with him, not allowing our faith in him or our love for him to grow cold.

Then what is left of the Passover meal must be burned. That is the end, in distress and need, when the flesh dies completely. We must keep the covenant according to his will, and he will, after a time, bring all our suffering to an end.

The Spirit fits us with a new garment when we come to him, when his love burns within us, and when we confess his works in our flesh. The old garment must be thrown away and the old leaven scrubbed out, so that his work may be accomplished within us. The old wineskin cannot contain the new wine. The old man cannot comprehend Christ. He hates Christ and cannot walk on the same way with him.

Come with joy, and dressed in new clothing! Come discerning the evil from the good! . . . Come and draw near to the Passover feast if you have taken his mark: his Spirit, the water and the blood. This is the Christians' possession, and to this they cling. It is the mark of baptism, which they receive of their own free will, and in which their old flesh drowns.

This is how Christ taught his discipes to keep the Passover in his flesh: He broke for them the bread and gave thanks. He gave them the cup and they drank. . . . With the bread he showed that whoever has his Spirit belongs to him, becomes one flesh with him, a member of his body and of his commune for which he died. He died to redeem his commune from the world. Like one bread is made from many grains, and one wine is made from many grapes, all true Christians become one bread and one wine in Christ the Lord. He sustains us and gives us true love in community with him.

-- Ausbund 55

Love will never come to nothing. Everything has an end but love. Love alone shall stand… Love clothes us for the wedding feast because God is love and love is God. He helps us out of all distress, and who shall take us far from him? Knowledge swells but love builds up. Everything done without love comes to ruin. Oh love! Oh love! Lead us with your hand and bind us together. False love is that which deceives us. Amen.

-- Ludwig Haetzer, based on I Corinthians 13, Ausbund, 57:6-7

Eternal Father in heaven, I call to you from my innermost being. Do not let me turn away from you, but keep me in your truth until the end. Oh God, keep my heart and my mouth. Watch over me every hour. Do not let me turn away from you because of anxiety, fear or distress. Keep me steadfast in your joy. . . . I lie here in chains, waiting on you God, with a very great longing (mit sehr großem Verlangen) for the time when you will set me free.

-- Ursula Hellrigl, Ausbund, 36

The Scriptures tell us that every man should have a wife for his body, a wife to bear him children so that they can be multiplied on this earth. God already commanded Adam and Eve to get busy in this way in the Garden of Eden. Marriage should be held in the same honour today, in purity and according to God's command. Marriage is honourable and good for all. The bed of the married couple is not defiled. In fact, God takes pleasure in it.

-- Ausbund, 102:7-8

In the beginning, God created me to be his child. He created me clean. He gave me his image when I was still in my mother's womb. But when I was born onto the earth I lost my goodness and was robbed of the innocence God had given to me. I grew up in the world, surrounded by all the impurities of sin. I sought only possessions and money, which are against God. Whatever my eyes lusted after, I sought in my heart. . . .

Even though the law of God within me resisted the common sins in which I lived, I did not obey it. I was perverted from the bottom of my heart. My mouth could speak only bad things, and my vices were many. Even though my spirit would have been willing to stay away from sin, I was too weak in the battle and soon found myself lying on my side. The good that I wanted to do I could not accomplish because the power of sin kept forcing me to do wrong. I led an uncontrolled life, driven by the lusts of my heart. I lost God's gift and sinned to the limit. Then the law of God judged me, and even though it was given for life, it condemned me to death.

When I recognized the law of God, I began to see the magnitude of my sins, my vices, and my shame. The law wounded me and condemned me to death and hell. There, surrounded by sin, death and hell I looked for God and he brought me to life again. He moved me with his law to where I found again the grace which I had lost for so long a time. . . .

The law taught me to recognize sin and drove me back to God's gift, given in Christ. I would not have known what sin was if God had not spoken to me. Like sin rules the man who lives in it, God's grace rules the man whom Christ bears again. He is led out of all sin to live in what is right.

When the law wounded my conscience I began to cry for God's grace and mercy. I began to cry to him to help me out of my sin and to accept me once more as his child for his mercy's sake. God in his grace, heard through Christ my cry. He brought me out of death, forgave my sins, took me again as his son, and through him I overcame sin when he made me new. Because I had fallen from God through sin and come under his wrath, he bore me again as his child. He bore me in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the man in between, so that I would not be lost.

No one comes to God unless God draws him. Therefore he shows us Christ so that none of us will run away from him when we see through the law the punishment we deserve....

Christ shows us the law of God for man: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." He shows us what is good and what is bad so that we may live in a different way. Christ is the fulfillment of the law that was given in figures to Moses. All the figures of the law end in Christ because Christ is the law. To obey the law, says Christ, is to love God with all the strength of our souls, and to love our neighbour as ourself. In these short commands the law is gathered up in Christ.

Faith and love out of a pure heart, says Paul, is the sum of all commands. The one who lives in God's love is a disciple of Christ and knows the truth. Love is kind and friendly and does no one harm. It bears everything and keeps away from sin. . . . This is how the law and the prophets are fulfilled in Christ our Lord. This is the way he has shown us that leads to the Father and eternal life. . . .

-- Hans Betz, Ausbund, 112

Listen all you Christians who have been born again! God's Son from the Kingdom of Heaven died on the cross and suffered death and shame. Let us follow him! Let us take up our cross! The blood of Jesus washes away the sins of those who leave all to follow him, and who believe on God alone -- even though they have sinned much. The Holy Spirit is given to those who believe and are baptized, if they follow Christ. With the Spirit they kill the flesh and find peace with God. Those who are washed and made free from sin with the blood of Christ walk in the Spirit with broken hearts. The Spirit rules them and shows them the way. Therefore, purified children of God -- born again -- keep yourselves pure! Let no man deceive you! The one who does right is right. The one who sins is a slave to sin.

Those of us who have been washed with the blood of Christ and made free from sin, are tied together in our hearts. We now walk in the Spirit who shows us the right way and who rules in us. The Spirit rules in our sinful bodies, that are now dead. And in Christ we become members of his body (eingeleibt), and buried with him through baptism in his death. Now we live for him and keep his commandments.

-- Ausbund, 114

Let us fight valiantly on, pressing toward the prize. The one who turns to one side or the other will perish with Lot's wife who turned to look back, feeling sorry for the possessions she left behind.

-- Hans Betz, Ausbund, 113:18

Let him who has laid his hand on the plow not look back! Press on to the goal! Press on to Jesus Christ! The one who gains Christ will rise with him from the dead on the youngest day. . . . Remember Lot's wife! When she looked back she was punished by God and became a pillar of salt. Let this be your example, you who have chosen the Way. Do not turn around! Do not look back! Declare yourselves for Christ and go ahead! If you overcome you will live with him in eternal joy!

-- Hans Betz, Ausbund, 111:11-12

The proud world wants to be Christian too. But the world is ashamed of the cross. The world says: No. That cannot be. Why should we suffer if the sufferings of Christ were enough to redeem us from our sins? Oh blind world, you will be put to shame! Your faith will not save you! Repent! If you do not want to suffer forever, come out from among the world and sin no more!

-- Ausbund, 79:10

To be like Christ we love one another, through everything, here on this earth. We love one another, not just with words but in deeds. . . . If we have of this world's goods (no matter how much or how little) and see that our brother has a need, but do not share with him what we have freely received -- how can we say that we would be ready to give our lives for him if necessary?

The one who is not faithful in the smallest thing, and who still seeks his own good which his heart desires -- how can he be trusted with a charge over heavenly things? Let us keep our eyes on love!

-- Ausbund, 119:12-14

Faith comes from hearing Christian preaching, then when a person believes, he must be baptized. Baptism in Christ is the covenant of a good conscience. . . . the promise to live from this point onward in the will of God. We make a promise to God in baptism that we are bound to keep. Like a wife is subject to her husband here on the earth, so we become subject to Christ when we marry him in baptism.

Baptism alone will not wash you from lust and sin. It only shows that you are clean in Christ. The righteousness of Christ is the garment you are to put on in baptism, when lust, sin, and deceit -- your Adam -- is washed away....

God's commune holds only to the customs of God. Its Gemeinschaft is in Jesus Christ and in his true peace. Like bread made of many grains that have all become one loaf, so is God's commune which had freed itself from private property.

No person can live with a desire for wealth in God's commune. Where there is greed the Lord Christ is not. Greed is of the devil. The devil was the first to take Eigenthum (private property) when he rebelled against God, the creator of life. For this reason God drove him out and consigned him to hell. The devil wanted to be like God (the true owner of property), but God could not tolerate that. . .

History tells us about greed. God gave the Israelites manna to eat. But those who gathered more than they needed found it full of worms. . . . Ananias, driven by greed lied to the Holy Ghost and God punished him. Judas, driven by greed, ended up hanging himself. In this way God punishes the greedy.

Everything on this earth was created to be free. The one who claims it as private property breaks the command and robs the glory of God. For this reason he will receive his wages with the rich man in hell.

God's commune, washed in the blood of Christ, is to be holy and pure. He who wants to be in it must purify himself by giving all that he has to be used for the glory of God. He gives to his neighbour as he has freely received. . . . Oh how pleasant it is in Jesus Christ where brothers live together in unity and have all their property in common!

The members of Christ share their spiritual and material gifts because they hold the kingdom of God in common. . . . They alone are the bride of Christ. . . . Oh commune of God, keep your marriage pure! Do not let yourself be carried away!

Turn from the enemy and his teachings. Do not let yourself be tricked like Eve who paid attention to his talk. Even if the serpent tries hard and long, do not let yourself be moved. Always follow Christ and you will live with him forever. . . .

-- Hans Betz, Ausbund, 108:5-6

The Christian commune is made clean through the blood of Christ. Jesus bears her again in the Wasserbad (water bath) through his Spirit.

Mark the counsel of God: Christ has set the pattern for a nighttime meal of bread and wine for his commune -- the commune that keeps itself from sin. If she eats the nighttime meal in remembrance of him, death will not overtake her.

-- Hans Betz, from the dungeon of the castle at Passau, Ausbund, 92:15

Baptism is right, like Christ taught it. If the order of baptism is not perverted, it symbolizes his bitter death. Baptism is the washing away of our sins through which we receive grace.37

-- Jorg Wagner, burned at the state in Munchen, Bavaria in 1527, Ausbund, 11:9

He who is born out of water and Spirit is no longer a sinner. His flesh rules him no longer. . . . True Christians have buried all their fleshly lusts with Christ.

-- Ausbund, 94:20-21

The nine men knelt on the green meadow. Blood flowed over the sword. Three women were drowned. One laughed when they put her into the water. Then we buried them all together in one deep grave. . . . There was much weeping. Many people cried to God that he would give rest to the departed souls. But others mocked, saying they were the devil's horde and served the Antichrist. . . . This was done on Friday morning. Many important people had come riding in. They came lightheartedly, but we all went home in tears. I cannot describe everything I saw.

-- Ausbund, 26

We are scattered like sheep without a shepherd. We have left our houses and lands and have become like owls of the night, like game birds. We sneak about in the forest. Men track us down with dogs, then lead us like lambs back to town. There they put us on display and say we are the cause of an uproar. We are counted like sheep for slaughter. They call us heretics and deceivers...

Oh Lord, no tribulation is so great that it can draw us away from you. . . . Glory, triumph and honour are yours from now into eternity. Your righteousness is always blessed by the people who gather in your name. You will come again to judge the earth!

-- Leonhard Schiemer, Ausbund, 31:4-5

The people were surprised. They said, "What is this? They go to death willingly, even though they could be free." Gotthard answered, "We do not die. Death just leads us to heaven where we shall be with all of God's children. We have this as our sure hope. Therefore we enter the gates of death with joy!"

-- Ausbund, 21:12

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