Hymn Story

If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

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If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

Georg Neumark (1621-1681), a young man enroute to the university at Konigsberg, Germany, was stopped and robbed midway in his journey.  The thieves were kind enough not to take his prayer book—and they missed a small packet of emergency money sewn into Neumark’s clothing.

But without funds to pursue his education, Neumark was forced to look for a job.  He went from town to town, but at each place was unable to find work.  When he arrived in Kiel, on the Baltic Sea in northern Germany, a pastor befriended him—and was finally able to help Neumark gain employment as a tutor.  He worked in Kiel until he had saved enough money to go to Konigsberg to begin his studies.

It was this experience that led Neumark to write this hymn, originally entitled “Wer nur den lieben Gott lastt walten.”  The hymn quickly found its way into hymnals across Germany.

But the hymn would have passed into obscurity long ago but for the work of Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)—a British translator who took a special interest in German hymnody.  Winkworth translated hundreds of German hymns into English—”If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee” among them.

The hymn reminds us to walk in faith, through even the most difficult of times, knowing that God has the power and will to transform every Good Friday into a new Easter.  It says:

If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
and hope in God through all thy ways,
God will give strength, whate’er betide thee,
and bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
builds on the rock that naught can move.

Scripture quotations from the World English Bible.

Copyright, 2015, Richard Niell Donovan