Songs in the Night

For a thousand years all of Europe lay under the curse of what we now call the “Dark Ages” — a period of dreadful ignorance, poverty, and oppression brought on by a Christian religion (the Mediaeval Catholic church) gone astray, with its attendant regimes.

Clerics and nobles joined forces during the Dark Ages in strangling the poor. But wretchedness knows no depths from which a song may not spring or a flower grow.

In the translated hymns and prose fragments below – most of them dating from late Mediaeval times or the Reformation era – you may hear snatches of those songs and praise God with them.

Johannes Tauler, Heinrich Seuse, and the unknown author of a book called Deutsche Theologie (some of whose works appear on this site) were German authors of the fourteenth century. The Anabaptists eagerly read their books and people knew them as the “Friends of God.”

The Ausbund, from which many more pieces are translated is a collection of Anabaptist hymns, first published by the “underground church” in Germany in 1564. Its original songs were written in dark prison cells of the castle at Passau on the Danube.  

“Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder” is a collection of hand-copied Anabaptist songs carried from Switzerland and Austria through Moravia, Slovakia, and Romania into Turkish lands and Russia. From there, in the 1870s, they were brought to America, and eventually found their way to Australia. Many of them appear in English translation for the first time on this website.

You will find the pieces translated here to be blunt, with a simple message, and not much style. Remember, a large number of them were written by people with death sentences on their heads (for having received baptism as adults on confession of faith). Many were written in prison by people suffering mediaeval tortures, soon to be beheaded, strangled, or burned alive. To own a copy of the Ausbund in the sixteenth century was in itself a capital offence. But, praise God, the songs of Jesus’ followers survived for you to sing them in your heart as you read them in English today!

A Broken Flower — Hans Betz

A Frightened Rabbit — Heinrich Seuse

A Knight For Your Honour — Hans Schmidt

A Rose Among Thorns — Hans Staudach

A Rose of Three Colours — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

A Small Pain To Lose Our Lives — Heinrich Summer and Jakob Mändl

An Acceptable Offering — Hans von Stotzingen

An Easy Yoke — Peter Ridemann

Baptism, The Door to Community — Hans Betz

Bearing Imperfection — Geert Groote

Born Again — Asenath Kellnerin

Brothers and Sisters of Christ — Ausbund

Building on Christ — Hans Maendel

Children of Light — Peter Ridemann

Children of Night/Children of Day — Hans Langenmantel

Christ the Ladder — Leonhard Lochmaier

Communion — Hans Schmidt

Community Restored — Hans Schmidt

Conversation with God — Vigil Plattner

Death Stands at the Door — Ausbund

Depending on Others — Geert Groote

Disciples — Gilg Federspiel

Do Not Hesitate — Matthias Schmidt

Do Not Look Back — Ausbund

Do Not Look Back — Peter Ridemann

Do Not Think of Opposing God — Ausbund

Driven by Love — Hans Schmidt

Eternal Treasure — Ausbund

Exchanging Trouble for Blessing — Heinrich Seuse

Farewell — Jörg Rack

For Prayer to Get Answered — Ausbund

Four Great Dangers — Johannes Tauler

Gelassenheit — Nicholaus Kempf

Gifts of the Spirit — Christoph Bisel

God Forgives — Ausbund

God’s Garden of Pleasure — Hans Schmidt

God’s Highest Command — Hans Schmidt

Good-Bye, World! — Anthoni Erfordter

Grafted in by Faith — Hans Schlaffer

Hang to the Words of Christ — Hans Schmidt

Hand in Hand With Christ — Peter Hagen

Hans Büchel’s Story — Ausbund

Heirs of Grace — Peter Ridemann

Hidden Truth to Light — Hänsl Zwinger

How It Went at Mils — Anna and Ursula

How To Suffer Joyfully — Geert Groote

How Trouble Helps — Geert Groote

How Wood Burns — Heinrich Seuse

Hypocrites — Daniel Kropf

I Have Failed You — Martin Dürr

I Have Nothing to Give — Michael Schneider

I Will Stay with Christ — Felix Manz

Inwardly Transformed — Hans Schmidt

Jesus, A Friend — Geert Groote

Jesus’ Yoke and Burden — Jörg Grünwald

Joy Comes in the Morning — Martin Zehentmayer

Judging Others — Ausbund

Keep Me Awake — Hans Schmidt

Keep My Heart Pure — Hans Plattner

Knock Adam Down — Wolfgang Sailer

Last Message to Maria — Heinrich Adam

Lead Me to the Kingdom — Leonhard Lochmaier

Leave the Snakes’ Nest — Daniel Kropf

Let God Have it All — Leonhard Schiemer

Life in Community — Geert Groote

Little Flower on the Moor — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

Living in Sunlight — Wolfgang Sailer

Lord Have Mercy — Ludwig Haetzer

Lot’s Wife — Ausbund

Love — Geert Groote

Love and Serve God Now — Geert Groote

Love, Desire and Grief — Heinrich Seuse

Love Like Fire — Peter Ridemann

Message from Jörg Liebich — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

Miracle of Grace — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

Miss World — Heinrich Seuse

My Heart Longs for You — Ursula Helrigling

New Covenant Love — Ausbund

No Fear with Love — Ausbund

No Fooling God — Peter Ridemann

No Joke for the Heathen — Hermann Schmidt

No Ritual Necessary — Johannes Eckhart

No Shrinking Back — Thomas Hermann

No Worries — Geert Groote

Nothing Unreasonable in Jesus Demands — Ausbund

Of Avoiding Inordinate Affection — Geert Groote

Of the Humble Estimation of Self — Geert Groote

Our Father’s Loving Discipline — Wolfgang Sailer

Our Samson: Christ — Hans Amon

Peace and Progress — Geert Groote

Peace in Slander — Geert Groote

Peace When Others Judge You — Geert Groote

Peaceful Community — Hans Schmidt

Persevering Love — Hans Schmidt

Pictures and Props — Heinrich Seuse

Prayer for Renewal — Peter Ridemann

Prayer of a Struggling Saint — Wolfgang Sailer

Proven in Conflict — Heinrich Seuse

Prudence in Action — Geert Groote

Purity and Simplicity — Geert Groote

Rejoice! — Hans Betz

Repent! — Peter Ridemann

Run After Christ –– Wolfgang Sailer

Save Me, Lord! — Wolfgang Sailer

See the Scattered Sheep — Hans Koch

Serve God Through Serving Others — Hans Schmidt

Song of a Christian Youth — Klaus Braitmichel

Song of a Fearless Fighter — Anthoni Erfordter

Song of an Old Man from Villach — Ausbund

Song of the Believers in Dürsrütti — Ausbund

Song of the Little Flock — Ausbund

Standing on Ice — Hans Büchel

Submission — Geert Groote

Take the Right Road — Ausbund

Take Up the Cross Today — Wolfgang Gerold

The Beast and the Whore — Hans Betz

The Beautiful Garden — Ausbund

The Believers’ Passover — Hans Schmidt

The Bridal Dress — Michael Schneider

The Bridegroom — Peter Ridemann

The Comforter Will Come — Peter Ridemann

The Communal Way — Hans Zimmerauer

The Cross — Geert Groote

The Devil in Angels’ Clothes — Wolfgang Sailer

The Fig Tree Turning Green — Sigmund Boschen

The Fight at Falkenstein — Leonhard Roth

The Fire of Love — Peter Riedemann

The Gift of Faith — Georg Blaurock

The Higher We Rise the Further We Fall — Johannes Tauler

The Jezebel Song — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

The Last Times — Hans Büchel

The Living Word — Wolfgang Sailer

The Narrow Door to the City of Peace — Hänsl Zwinger

The Purging Process — Ausbund

The Rule of Antichrist — Ausbund

The Sharp Arrows of Slander — Geert Groote

The Song of Falkenstein Castle — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

The Song of the Lark — Ausbund

The Song of the Owl — Peter Ridemann

The Way of Peace — Geert Groote

The Way Marked in Blood — Hans Schmidt

The Way to God — Deutsche Theologie

The Way to Paradise — Ausbund

The Way We Want It — Heinrich Seuse

The Ways of Life and Death — Peter Ridemann

The Wedding Robe — Bärtl Riegl

The Work is Yours — Michael Schneider

Tried Like Gold — Michael Sattler

Troubled Conscience — Hans Betz

True Surrender — Heinrich Seuse

Truth in Creation — Hans Hut

Twelve Virgins — Ausbund

Two Kinds of Food — Ausbund

Two Kinds of People — Heinrich Seuse

Two Kinds of Water — Heinrich Seuse

Two Swords — Ausbund

Unequalled Love — Peter Ridemann

Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace — Ausbund

Unspotted — Sigmund Hassauer

Vanity of Vanities — John Chrysostom

Watching When the Trumpet Sounds — Georg Blaurock

Water from the Rock — Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder

Wedding Robes — Ausbund

What You Can Yet Do Without — Heinrich Seuse

When All Consolation is Taken Away — Geert Groote

When Summer Comes Again — Ausbund

Why God Made Us — Hans Schmidt

Winter of the Soul — Ausbund

Wolves and Bears — Hänsl Zwinger

Write Your Law on our Hearts — Lorenz Ringmacher

You are My Comfort — Hans Leupold

You See Me, Lord! — Peter Ecker

You Will See God — Martin aus Villgraten