Song of an Old Man from Villach

Ausbund, 48

When I looked around in my old age and saw how near I stood to death, I felt dismayed. I thought, my time is running out and I have sinned very much. I have done nothing worthwhile in my life. I have failed to keep God’s commandments, and now death stands before me!

Oh death, you are so strong! No one can wrestle with you and overcome. You weaken my limbs, you waste the marrow in my bones, you let my face sag and my back turn crooked under your power. You take the hearing from my ears and my eyes turn red. My hands and feet no longer serve me well.

When I saw all this happening to me I panicked. Death had me trapped! I saw no way out and I cried in terror to God. “Let me repent,” I cried to him. “Let me leave sin and do better before my day of reckoning comes!”

Thank God, he heard my prayer. Through his grace he made my heart clean. He renewed my life when I believed in Jesus Christ and nothing can frighten me anymore.

Then I took my staff in my hand and went sneaking off to the meeting of the faithful where I heard God’s Word preached to rich and poor alike. I heard men speak from the Holy Scriptures: “Watch out for hypocrisy and the works of man. If you do not wish to die, believe on the Son of God.”

Now depart from me, devil, death, and hell! You are overcome! Even though flesh and blood accompany me still, Christ has bound you. You have no power over me anymore. Help me, Christ, to walk with you to eternal joy!

Hans von Villach, ca. 1530, Kärnten, Austria

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