Ulrich Zwingli’s “Plague Hymn”

This past Lord’s Day, October 31, 2021, was Reformation Day. Each year we thank the Lord for his gracious work and focus on some aspect of his truth that was emphasized during the Reformation. This year our focus was on sola scriptura. We also sang hymns composed by some of the Reformers: John Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli.

In 1519 Ulrich Zwingli was on vacation, and he heard that the Black Death came to Zurich where he lived and ministered. He immediately went back to minister, but quickly contracted the sickness. During this sickness he wrote this hymn that would become famous. He wrote stanzas one and two when he first became sick, stanzas three and four as he was near death, and stanzas five and six after he recovered (source).

Here is a PDF of this hymn. We sang this to “Old 100th.”

Growing sickness…
Help me, O Lord, my strength and rock;
Lo, at the door I hear death’s knock.
Uplift thine arm, once pierced for me,
That conquered death and set me free.

Yet, if thy voice, in life’s midday.
Recalls my soul, then I obey.
In faith and hope earth I resign.
Secure of heaven, for I am Thine.

Gravely ill…
My pains increase; haste to console;
For fear and woe seize body and soul.
Death is at hand; my senses fail.
My tongue is dumb; now, Christ, prevail.

Lo! Satan strains to snatch his prey;
I feel his grasp; must I give way?
He harms me not, I fear no loss,
For here I lie beneath thy cross.

My God! My Lord! Healed by thy hand.
Upon the earth once more I stand.
Let sin no more rule over me;
My mouth shall sing alone to thee.

Though now delayed, my hour will come.
Involved, perchance, in deeper gloom.
But, let it come; with joy I’ll rise,
And bear my yoke straight to the skies.