Poems and Rhymed Prayers

In 1920 Eberhard and Emmy Arnold abandoned the security of the Berlin suburbs for a new life in the village of Sannerz. Here they embarked on what Eberhard called an “adventure of faith” – a life of voluntary poverty and community. His poems from this time reflect the new beginning, expressing the joy and the struggles of the fledgling circle, yet still encompassing a wider vision, and the continued call of a life lived for God.

The Valley Opens Wide

The valley opens wide,
and sunshine floods it full of light.
O may my soul awake to thee,
to thee be opened wide –
that I for thee may be outpoured
and wait in stillness for thy word.

My eyes, be lifted high
to view creation’s wondrous might,
to gaze far out across the land –
yea, thou art great! not I.
Thou, only one, art all in all.
In thee there is no other call.

No other choice is mine.
Eternity rules in the spheres.
Its radiance forever streams,
and it is not confined,
but everywhere. All space is thine –
and so I give thee all that’s mine.

As boundless and as wide
as is this land, so is our God.
His Spirit plays across the fields;
in all that lives, he hides.
He hovers o’er the woodland trees –
a moving, pulsing, living breeze.

This wide and lovely scene’s
a symbol of God’s reign of peace.
Its colors are our colors –
for our hope is always green,
and with the depth of waters blue,
we would be loyal to thee, and true.

God, thou art without end!
To thee the widest land is small.
Thy Spirit knows no bounds;
so, too, we love thee without end.
Yes, we are wholly, fully thine:
none stands apart, in space or time.

Sannerz, May 1923

I have begun to live again.
The night retreats, death sinks away.
My body stirs, my limbs awake.
Spring breezes whisper, sunbeams play.

Who grasps the lightning in his hand?
Who holds the sun and makes it blaze?
To see is to tremble in awe and bliss
and know hope’s blessings all your days.

I’ve started to believe again.
My courage rises, my spirit revives.
I walk as if through rose-filled arbors.
Life spreads and stretches, upward strives.

And I’ve begun to love again.
Spring’s fragrance wafts upon the air.
Death’s coldness is at last dispersed,
the loveless night chased to its lair.

Sannerz, May 1923

All is Silent

All is silent,
and we sense
how, deep beneath night’s veil,
star-day breaks.

All things wait,
and we believe
that from the dying world
new life wakes.

In all worlds
the light must shine –
throughout all space and time
eternity gleams.

Jesus beckons,
and we marvel
how clearly from afar
his light beams.

Jesus nears,
and we watch
as he who comes to us
holds the sun.

Jesus calls,
and we hear
his voice – a spirit that
fills our lungs.

Jesus lives –
we live with him.
Life hovers over death’s

Jesus conquers,
radiant, striding.
He transforms chaos,
brings unity.

Sannerz, July 26, 1924

Adapted from Eberhard Arnold, Emmy Arnold, and Else von Hollander, Poems and Rhymed Prayers (Rifton, NY: Plough, 2011).