In researching Advent hymns, I came across this one. It was written in 1937 by Jochen Klepper, a Christian writer who had married a Jewish widow, and saw the Nazi state closing in around them. In the deepest darkness, he looked to the rising of the Sun of Righteousness.

JOCHEN KLEPPER March 22, 1903 – December 11, 1942

Klepper was born in Beuthen an der Oder, Silesia, the son of a Lutheran minister. He originally studied theology at the University of Breslau, but dropped out to become a radio journalist in Berlin before being ostracized by the Nazi Party for his 1931 marriage to Johanna Stein, a Jewish widow with two daughters. He was fired from his work with Berliner Funk in June 1933, and was later fired from Ullstein Publishing House in September 1935. He had written favorably about a Prussian king and the stark contrast to the current German government. The book became very popular and by March 1937, he had lost his license to publish his largely Christian works from the state literary office.

The persecution of the Jews threatened his wife and two stepdaughters. The older girl, Brigitte, managed to leave for England in 1939. Klepper became a soldier that same year, until he was dismissed from the Wehrmacht in 1942 because of his “mixed marriage.” He even negotiated with Adolf Eichmann, the head of the Jewish Evacuation Department in the Reich Security Main Office.

On December 11, 1942, after Eichmann refused a visa for the couple’s second daughter, the three of them committed suicide by turning on a gas valve – Jochen writing in his journal just before they died: Tonight we die together. Over us stands in the last moments the image of the blessed Christ who surrounds us. With this view we end our lives. After their death, the diary was given by Jochen’s sister Hildegard, to the Allied trial against Adolf Eichmann where it was used as evidence against him (Session 51).

God is greater than our heart

As victims of racial hatred

the poet Jochen Klepper and his family went together into death

Forgive us our debts

Here is a performance of Die Nacht is vorgedrungen. Here for women’s voices.

1 Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen,
der Tag ist nicht mehr fern!
So sei nun Lob gesungen
dem hellen Morgenstern!
Auch wer zur Nacht geweinet,
der stimme froh mit ein.
Der Morgenstern bescheinet
auch deine Angst und Pein.

2) Dem alle Engel dienen,
wird nun ein Kind und Knecht.
Gott selber ist erschienen
zur Sühne für sein Recht.
Wer schuldig ist auf Erden,
verhüll nicht mehr sein Haupt.
Er soll errettet werden,
wenn er dem Kinde glaubt.

3) Die Nacht ist schon im Schwinden,
macht euch zum Stalle auf!
Ihr sollt das Heil dort finden,
das aller Zeiten Lauf
von Anfang an verkündet,
seit eure Schuld geschah.
Nun hat sich euch verbündet,
den Gott selbst ausersah.

4) Noch manche Nacht wird fallen
auf Menschenleid und -schuld.
Doch wandert nun mit allen
der Stern der Gotteshuld.
Beglänzt von seinem Lichte,
hält euch kein Dunkel mehr,
von Gottes Angesichte
kam euch die Rettung her.

5) Gott will im Dunkel wohnen
und hat es doch erhellt.
Als wollte er belohnen,
so richtet er die Welt.
Der sich den Erdkreis baute,
der lässt den Sünder nicht.
Wer hier dem Sohn vertraute,
kommt dort aus dem Gericht.

1 The night will soon be ending;
The dawn cannot be far.
Let songs of praise ascending
Now greet the Morning Star!
All you whom darkness frightens
With guilt or grief or pain,
God’s radiant Star now brightens
And bids you sing again.

2 By heaven’s hosts surrounded
A servant he became
His age-old law expounded
For our atonement’s gain
Offenders of all nations
Shall taste of mercies mild
They shall receive oblation
Believing his own child

3 The night will soon be fading
Where Beth’lem’s manger stands
For your release is waiting
Bring incense, ewe and ram
And hear ye all his preaching
Planned from the dawn of time
He beckons, over-reaching
With mercy’s tender chime

4 Yet nights will bring their sadness
And rob our hearts of peace,
And sin in all its madness
Around us may increase.
But now one Star is beaming
Whose rays have pierced the night:
God comes for our redeeming
From sin’s oppressive might.

5 God dwells with us in darkness
And makes the night as day;
Yet we resist the brightness
And turn from God away.
But grace does not forsake us,
However far we run.
God claims us still as children
Through Mary’s infant Son.

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