Wake with Resurrection: "Awake, My Heart, with Gladness"
While many Christians consider Christmas as the most important event of the calendar, the Church gives Easter this honor. Easter is when Christ resurrected and brought into Heaven, fulfilling his purpose on Earth. "Awake, My Heart, with Gladness" fills all the things Christians need and want during this season.
"Awake, My Heart, with Gladness" is a German hymn penned by Paul Gerhardt in 1648. Its original title was Auf, auf, mein Herz, mit Freuden in German. Johann Crüger composed the tune and included in his Praxis Pietatis Melica. It was published in the same year with the same name. John Kelly translated the hymn to English his book Paul Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs (1867).
It is a long hymn, with eight stanzas with eight lines per stanza. The original version has nine stanzas, located between the second and third stanza. This hymn will require energy to sing it. Energy also emphasizes and reciprocates the theme of Easter - the season of renewal, resurrection, hope and confidence. The hymn is a mix of noble strength, joy and awe in the event of Jesus Christ's resurrection.
Paul Gerhardt (1607–1676) led a life full of strife and trouble. He was born in Wittenberg, Germany and he got his education from the University of Wittenberg in 1628. Gerhardt's adult life was overshadowed by the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). The War was a time of clashing religious ideals within Christianity and involved the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm. At a young age, soldiers burned his hometown, and his family lost their possessions. Even as an ordained priest, he was given the worst circumstances, serving in parishes where people were hostile to him. He lost his father, Christian Gerhardt, at an early age. In addition, four of his five children died while his wife left him in 1668. His only surviving son, Paul Friedrich, was only six years old.
Despite these troubles, Gerhardt is remembered for his hymns and recognized as the Prince of Lutheran Hymnists. Martin Luther is the most famous Lutheran priest, but Gerhardt's hymns are the best in the Lutheran hymnody. With his background, Gerhardt's hymns reflect his troubled life, but his hymns also proved that God's presence and hope are everywhere. His works are a source of special comfort to the sorrowing and heavy-laden souls. Even in his state, he chose to comfort the people using his hymns beside himself.