"I SAY TO ALL MEN FAR AND NEAR"
"He is risen, as He said" (Matt. 28:6)
INTRO.: A hymn which is about the resurrection of Christ, without which the death of Christ, which we remember in the Lord’s supper, would be meaningless is "I Say to All Men Far and Near." The text was written by Georg Friedrich Phillipp von Hardenberg, who was born on May 2, 1772, at his father’s estate of Ober-Wiederstad near Eisleben, Germany, the son of Baron Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus von Hardenberg who was director of the Saxon Salt Works at Weissenfels. His parents were Moravians, and his early education came from a Moravian minister. In the fall of 1790, Friedrich entered the University of Jena, then went to Leipzig, and finally to Wittenberg. Following the completion of his studies, he went to Tennstadt, near Erfurt, at the end of 1794, to learn administration under Kreisamtmann Just. Then in the fall of 1797, he entered the School of Mines at Freiberg in Saxony. During these years, Hardenberg had begun writing under the psdeudonym of Novalis, which was apparently taken from the name of one of the family estates. His Bluthenstaub was published in the Athenaeum of Brunswick in 1798.
One of the leaders of the Romantic School which arose in Germany in the last years of the eighteenth century, Hardenbert was a friend of poets and writers Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel, Friedrich de la Motte Fouque, and Johann Ludwig Tieck. Hardenberg’s hymns, for which he is best known, arose from the time of deep sorrow following the death of his fiancee, Sophie von Kuhn, which turned his thoughts to the faith of his childhood. The hymns in his Marianlieder were not intended by himself to be published separately but to be inserted into his unfinished romance of Heinrich von Ofterdingen. In 1799 went to Artern, at the foot of the Kyffhauser-Berg to work at the Salt Works there. Shortly afterwards he began spitting blood, and while visiting Dresden the news of the sudden death of a younger brother in November of 1800 brought on a hemorrhage which eliminated any hope of recovery. In January of 1801, he was moved to his parents’ home at Weissenfels, Germany, where he died on Mar. 25, 1801. Seven of his hymns had been sent on Jan. 20, 1800, to F. Schlegel for publication in the Athenaeum, but they did not appear until 1802 in the Musenalmanach fur das Jahr published at Tubingen. The rest of them, including "Ich sag’ es jedem, dass er lebt" in eight stanzas of four lines each, appeared in his Schriften, published posthumously at Berlin also in 1802.
The usual translation of this hymn into English was made by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878). It appeared in her Lyra Germanica, second series, of 1858. However, four other translations exist. They are "I say to everyone He lives" by Helen Lowe in 1844; "To everyone I say" by J. F. Hurst in 1869; "I say to each man that He lives" by M. E. Bramston in 1875; and "He lives! He’s risen from the dead" by G. Macdonald in 1876. Also the hymn "He lives! He lives! let joy again" by John Bowring of 1837 seems to be based on Hardenberg’s poem. Several tunes have been used with "I Say to All Men Everywhere." One that seems appropriate to me is attributed to Ludwig van Beethovan (1770-1827). William D. Jeffcoat used it for his own "Though Hosts of Sin Encamp Around" in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church which he edited. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, two stanzas of Hardenberg’s text appeared, with a tune (Graffenberg) attributed to Johann Cruger and often associated with Isaac Watts’s hymn "This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made," in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.
While this hymn is about the resurrection of Christ, when we remember His death in the Lord’s supper we must also think of His
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the resurrection of Christ
"I say to all men far and near That He is risen today;
That He is with us now and hear, And evermore shall stay.
(Winkworth’s orignal translation read:
"That He is risen again….And ever shall remain.")
A. Jesus Christ is risen today because He rose from the dead on the first day of the week: Mk. 16:9
B. Because He is risen, He is with us now and here when we assemble in His name: Matt. 18:20
C. And He shall stay with us evermore unto the end of the age: Matt. 28:20
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the importance of telling about the resurrection of Christ
"And what I say, let each this morn Go tell it to his friend,
That soon in every place shall dawn His kingdom without end."
A. We should want to tell all our friends about the good news of Christ’s resurrection just as Jesus told the healed demoniac to go home and tell His friends what had happened to him: Mk. 5:19
B. The Lord wants the gospel or good news to be preached in every place to every creature: Mk. 16:15
C. The last two lines of the song might sound premillennial to some, but the idea of His kingdom dawning could simply mean that as time passes on different people in different places in different generations would hear the good news and come into the kingdom (His kingdom dawns on them): Acts 14:22
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the the results of the resurrection of Christ
"The fears of death and of the grave Are whelmed beneath the sea;
And every heart now light and brave May face the things to be."
A. By His death and resurrection, Jesus delivers us from the fear of death and the grave: Heb. 2:14-15
B. These things are whelmed beneath the sea just all our sins can be cast into the depths of the sea: Mic. 7:19
C. As a result, every heart may not be light and brave with the joy of the Lord: Phil. 4:4
IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes the hope that is brought to us by the resurrection of Christ
"The way of darkness that He trod To heaven at last shall come,
And he who hearkens to His word shall reach His Father’s home."
A. The way of darkness that He trod simply refers to the condescension and death of Jesus for us: Phil. 2:5-8
B. However, this way led Him to heaven, the Presence behind the veil, which He entered as our forerunner: Heb. 6:19-20
C. And if we follow His strait and narrow way, it shall lead us to the Father’s home as well: Matt. 7:13-14
V. Stanza 5 emphasizes the comfort give to us by the resurrection of Christ
"Now let the mourner grieve no more Though his beloved sleep;
A happier meeting shall restore Their light to eyes that weep."
A. Christians may grieve, but not as those who are without hope: 1 Thess. 1:13-17
B. Those who "sleep" refer to those who have died: Jn. 11:11-14
C. However, the righteous have the comfort of looking forward to a happier meeting when the dead are raised: 1 Cor. 15:50-54
VI. Stanza 6 emphasizes the reminder of both the death and resurrection of Christ
"He lives! His presence hath not ceased, Though foes and fears be rife;
And thus we hail in this great feast A world renewed in life!"
(Since this was intended as an "Easter hymn," the original read "in Easter’s feast")
A. Because He rose from the dead, Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us: Heb. 7:25
B. As our living Lord, He gave us a feast to remind us of His death: Matt. 26:26-29
C. Yet, as we remember His death, we also hail a world renewed to life because we look forward to His coming again: 1 Cor. 11:23-26
CONCL.: John Julian said of Hardenberg, "His hymns, 15 in all, are distinguished by beauty of rhythm and lyric grace. While some have been included in recent German hymn-books…thorough the influence of F. Schleiermacher, yet for Church use they are too subjective, and in some cases even too sentimental. They must be regarded as beautiful and deeply spiritual poems, rather than as hymns suited for public worship." This is the only one of his hymns which I have ever seen in a hymnbook. However, I do need to remember that when I partake of the Lord’s supper there is something about the death and resurrection of Christ that "I Say to All Men Far and Near."