Skip to content

Appreciating Our Lutheran Hymns

Jesus, Grant that Balm and Healing

A Lenten Hymn

#144 in The Lutheran Hymnal

About the writer of this month’s hymn The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal says: “He was indeed well grounded in the school of affliction.”

The sole survivor of five children, Johann Heermann lived through a childhood illness during which his mother vowed she would have him trained for the minstry if he recovered. Later on, he also suffered from eye and throat ailments. As a Lutheran pastor he fully felt the distresses of the Thirty Years’ War: his town was plundered four times and devastated by fire and pestilence; several times he lost all his movables; once he was kept away from home for seventeen weeks; he was nearly sabered twice–to mention just a few of the hardships he faced.

Knowing Heermann’s background gives much deeper meaning to his words: “Jesus, grant that balm and healing In Thy holy wounds I find, Ev’ry hour that I am feeling Pains of body and of mind.”

It was through those very pains of body and mind that the Lord shaped this man into a great blessing for His Church. Heermann wrote 400 hymns and ranks among the best hymnwriters of the seventeenth century. Some regard him as second only to the gifted Paul Gerhardt.

His greatness lay in the fact that no matter what he faced, Heermann relied on God for his strength: “Ev’ry wound that pains or grieves me, By Thy stripes, Lord, is made whole; . . . For Thy all-atoning Passion has procured my soul’s salvation.”

These words ring so true with us who are fellow Christians with that great hymnwriter. In the face of strife and pain, persecution and peril, sickness and even death, there is nowhere else we would turn than to our Savior. And what better place to view our Savior than in His Passion, His suffering and death in our place?

May we sing with Heermann, asking Jesus to be with us in whatever temptations the devil, the world, and our flesh may throw at us; so that in the end God may turn it all to His glory and our eternal good!

–Pastor Paul Krause