Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr

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"Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr"
Christian hymn
Written1973 (1973)
Textby Lothar Zenetti translating Huub Oosterhuis
Meter10 11 10 11 10 11
Melodyby Bernard Huijbers
Composed1964 (1964)
Published1975 (1975)

"Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr" (I stand before you with empty hands, Lord) is a Christian hymn with German text by Lothar Zenetti, translating a 1969 Dutch hymn by Huub Oosterhuis. The song, of the genre Neues Geistliches Lied (NGL), appeared from 1975 in German hymnals.


Oosterhuis wrote the text in three stanzas of six lines each in 1969,[1] based on several biblical themes. The melody was composed by Bernard Huijbers [nl] in 1964.[1] Zenetti's translation from 1973[1] was included in the German Catholic hymnal Gotteslob of 1975 as GL 621.[2] The song was again published in the 2013 edition as GL 422.[3] It was also printed in the Protestant hymnal of 1995 Evangelisches Gesangbuch, as EG 382.[3]

Text and theme[edit]

The text, written in the first person, is focused on an attitude of empty hands, limited knowledge and understanding, and many questions. In the second stanza, the old promises, such as being rescued from exile, are compared to the present situation,[4] of doubt, feeling helpless, and caught in inability to change ("mein Unvermögen hält mich ganz gefangen").[4] The last stanza asks God to speak the words that console and make free ("Sprich du das Wort, das tröstet und befreit), leading to a great peace (und das mich führt in deinen großen Frieden"). The final words are: You are my breath, when I pray to you (Du bist mein Atem, wenn ich zu dir bete).[4]


The melody is written without bar lines, moving evenly in free flow, with longer notes only at the end of each long line. It has been described as "plain and brittle" ("schlicht und spröde"), supporting the insecure attitude of the singer.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr". Liederdatenbank (in German). Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  2. ^ Kirchgessner, Pius. ""Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr" / (Liedtext im alten Gotteslob 621)" (in German). pius-kirchgessner.de. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr – GL 422 / EG 382". huuboosterhuis.de (in German). Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Steiger, Thomas (31 March 2019). "Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen, Herr (GL 422)" (in German). SWR. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  5. ^ Jäger, Dietrich (17 November 2013). "Dietrich Jäger, Predigt über RG 213 / Liedpredigt über Ich steh vor dir mit leeren Händen(RG 213)" (PDF). kirchengesangsbund.ch (in German). Retrieved 10 July 2019.

External links[edit]