Rose: Hymns – God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It

Erdmann Neumeister was born in May of 1671 to Johann, a Schoolmaster and Organist, in Uichteritz, Germany. He studied poetry and theology at the University of Leipzig from 1689-1695. Afterwards, he lectured at the university. Two years after graduating, he became the pastor at Bibra. In 1704, Duke Johann Georg brought him to Weissenfels as a tutor to his daughter as well as appointing him assistant and then full court preacher. He eventually became the deacon here. In 1706, the duke’s sister brought him to Sorau and made him court preacher and superintendent. Nine years later, in 1715, he moved to Hamburg, partially because of theological disputes with Piests and to become the pastor of St. James’s Church. Over his life, he because known as a great preacher, poet, and hymnist. His hymns were loved not only because he wrote so many but because they educated.

During his time here, Johann Sebastian Bach applied for a position as an organist as St. James’s, though Bach had already begun to put some of Neumeister’s text to music. Even so, it was in fact a Johann Caspar Bachofen of Switzerland who composed the tune to “God’s Own Child, I gladly Say It” in 1727, nine years after Neumeister wrote the words. The text was not translated into English, however, until 1991 by Rev. Robert Voelker. The text is largely derived from Luther’s Small Catechism from the section on Baptism. Neumeister died in August of 1756. He was buried in the church he pastored at the end of his life, but both his grave and St. James’s were destroyed during WWII. But as this hymn reminds us, there is no sadness even in death and destruction, for our new baptized life is not for the temporal world but for the eternal. Death and destruction hold no fear for us, and life eternal awaits us.

God’s own child, I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many?
I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free
Lasting to eternity!

Our baptism into Christ is such a wonderful thing to be glad for. Like our birthdays every year, so do many, and should many, remember their baptismal birthday. How wonderful it is that we can be called children of God (1 Jhn. 3:1-3)! How marvelous it is that God sent Jesus to die for us and rise again so that we who were dead in our sins might be made alive in Christ and be adopted as sons (Rom. 5:6-11, 8:12-21, Titus 3:4-7). We were dead in our sins and thus could do nothing for ourselves. It is in Him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). It is also in Him that our lives are redeemed, bought back from the penalties of sin, brought into fellowship with God (Gal. 4:7, 1 Cor. 6:19-20, 1 Pet. 18-19). What on earth could be more precious that this gift of love, this sacrifice from God? Our eternal treasure is this washing of our sins away in the blood of the Lamb in our baptism (Gal. 3:26, Matt. 6:21, Mar. 16:16, 1 Pet. 3:21). 

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:
I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger:
Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood!

Now temptations will still attempt to pull us towards lessor treasures and our flesh will plague us until we are with Christ. Even so, in Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit we defy sin, for we are baptized! Our comforts and treasures are not found in whatever little things sin tries to pull us towards. Instead, our comfort is found in God through what Jesus did for us. He made us new creations (2 Cor. 5:17-19). When we are tempted, even if our guilt should overwhelm us, we have been justified, forgiven, and now have peace with God (Rom. 5:1-9). Our lives have been made free in washing and renewal (Rom. 6:1-11). What do we have to fear when our faith is in God (Psa. 118:6, Rom. 8:38-39)?

Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!

Some of our struggle will also come from that ancient foe. Yet even then, he will not destroy us. Our foundation does not rest on ourselves and what we are or are not able to do. We can do nothing! This is why we needed to be saved, to be baptized (Eph. 2:1-10). And thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit is with us. Sin and the Devil have no power over us now: we are God’s children. Now that we are saved, baptized, and cared for by God, we have no fear when we stand against the Devil’s schemes, for Christ has equipped us against them (Col. 1:13-14, Rom. 6:6-7, Eph. 6:10-18). He will be with us and our strength comes from Him. How joyful we can be now that we are baptized into Christ! How wonderful it is to be a child of God (Heb. 2:10-15)!

Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
To inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes
Faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine. 

Finally, we have arrived at death. But even here, we have no fear, for Christ has overcome not only sin and the Devil but also death (Rom. 6:23, Heb. 2:14-15)! Moreover, when we do die, we leave the pain and sadness on earth and enter into paradise where we will live with God forever. So whether we are awake or asleep, we will live with Him for He has given us eternal life (Rom. 6:8-10, 1 Thes. 5:9-11). Death has been overcome. Our faith rests not in uncertainty but on our baptism and the promises that God has made along with it (Col. 2:11-15, Jhn. 3:5-6, 1 Pet. 3:18-22). Our gladness continues even in death, for we have been renewed and brought into eternal life with Christ (Rom. 8:10, 1 Cor. 15:54-58). 

There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring:
Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ;
I’m a child of paradise! 

This final verse is a compilation of the previous four. Here, we are reminded of what a treasure our baptism is to us (Matt. 6:21). There is nothing on earth that could compare to this gift of grace God has given to us. We can have peace and hope in this life knowing of what is to come because of this gift of salvation. Despair, sin, and death may plague us, but we stand firm in the strength of God and in the hope of His promises (Psa. 62:1, Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 15:55, 2 Cor. 12:9, Phil. 4:13). Thus, we praise Christ and continue to thank Him for the marvelous things he has done for us (Psa. 16:8-11). This hymn reminds us to always be mindful of our baptisms, to remember that we are children of God and of His kingdom (Gal. 3:26-27, Rom. 8:15). How truly wonderful this assurance is!

Blessings to you and yours,


Works Referenced

“Erdmann Neumeister.”

“Erdmann Neumeister.”

“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.”

“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.”

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