Awake, you Christians all.
And grasp it courageously
With a sound rich in joy,
Reach for this crown
Which God has promised to us.
Through His Holy Spirit
He wants to show us His help,
That we may praise Him
In affliction most of all.
Ausbund Song 100 verse 8
I love reading the Ausbund, almost as much as I love reading the Bible. I have about 12 copies of the Bible in my house…maybe more. I have been collecting my families Bibles, the old worn and tattered copies from grandparents, great-grandfather, and even one great-great grandfather. There is a lot of promise in the Bible, in reading God’s Word.
Reading the Bible helps me feel closer to God. Reading the Ausbund helps me feel closer to my ancestors.
This Ausbund Song was written by fourteen different authors while held prisoner in the Passau prison in 1537. These men, Anabaptists during the Reformation Period, were traveling from Moravia to South Germany to escape persecution. Instead, they were arrested and held for five years in the prison. Some of them died.
The beautiful thing is that, even in the worse of circumstances, they praised God. They remained steadfast in their beliefs and faithful to God. How often do we face hardships and ask the question “Why me?” or pray “Please lift this burden?” Some people even publicly throw stones or point fingers at others, rather than exploring their own responsibility for creating stressful situations.
We often ask God to remove the burden rather than just have faith and praise God.
The Amish follow this same model. They worship God privately. They never use God as a weapon or a shield. If a circumstance bothers them, they are true Christians and pray pri tout their religion nor do they try to force it on others. They never claim to have a “bigger” God or a God that favors them over others. Instead, they worship privately and through songs. Songs that have been passed down over almost 500 years of persecution. Ironic. Always persecuted but never the persecutor. And yet, they continue to remain strong and faithful and private.
There is a valuable lesson here. In the future, when I face my own “afflictions”, I will think of Hans Betz, Peter Strumpheter, and Hans Haffner, and all of the men who wrote this song praising God and reminding others to sing of His glory rather than bemoan their own troubled circumstances while imprisoned in a dark, dank cell during the 16th century. I will follow their advice, reaching for the Crown by praising God. It sounds much more comforting, doesn’t it?
Blessings to all of you.