CENTENNIAL HYMN

John G. Whittier well known for his poem ‘The brewing of soma’ (see below) from which the hymn Dear Lord and Father of mankind comes. He was an abolitionist and poet, and was known for encouraging women poets and writers. This hymn longs for a time of peace – nothing has changed!

Our father’s God! from out whose hand

The centuries fall like grains of sand,
We meet to-day, united, free
And loyal to our land and Thee,
To thank Thee for the era done,
And trust Thee for the opening one.
Here where of old, by Thy design,
The fathers spake that word of Thine
Whose echo is the glad refrain
Of rended bolt and falling chain,
To grace our festal time, from all
The zones of earth, our guests we call.
Be with us while the New World greets
The Old World thronging all its streets
Unveiling all the triumphs won
By art or toil beneath the sun;
And unto common good ordain
This rivalship of hand and brain.
Thou, who hast here in concord furled
The war flags of a gathered world,
Beneath the Western skies fulfill
The Orient’s mission of good-will,
And, freighted with love’s Golden Fleece,
Send back its Argonauts of peace.
For art and labor met in truce,
For beauty made the bride of use,
We thank Thee; but, withal, we crave
The austere virtues strong to save,
The honor proof to place or gold,
The manhood never bought nor sold!
Oh, make Thou us, through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong;
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of Thy righteous law;
And, cast in some diviner mould,
Let the new cycle shame the old!
~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

 

The fagots blazed, the caldron’s smoke
Up through the green wood curled;
“Bring honey from the hollow oak,
Bring milky sap,” the brewers spoke,
In the childhood of the world.

And brewed they well or brewed they ill,
The priests thrust in their rods,
First tasted, and then drank their fill,
And shouted, with one voice and will,
“Behold the drink of gods!”

They drank, and lo! in heart and brain
A new, glad life began;
The gray of hair grew young again,
The sick man laughed away his pain,
The cripple leaped and ran.

“Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent,
Forget your long annoy.”
So sang the priests. From tent to tent
The Soma’s sacred madness went,
A storm of drunken joy.

Then knew each rapt inebriate
A winged and glorious birth,
Soared upward, with strange joy elate,
Beat, with dazed head, Varuna’s gate,
And, sobered, sank to earth.

The land with Soma’s praises rang;
On Gihon’s banks of shade
Its hymns the dusky maidens sang;
In joy of life or mortal pang
All men to Soma prayed.

The morning twilight of the race
Sends down these matin psalms;
And still with wondering eyes we trace
The simple prayers to Soma’s grace,
That Vedic verse embalms.

As in that child-world’s early year,
Each after age has striven
By music, incense, vigils drear,
And trance, to bring the skies more near,
Or lift men up to heaven!

Some fever of the blood and brain,
Some self-exalting spell,
The scourger’s keen delight of pain,
The Dervish dance, the Orphic strain,
The wild-haired Bacchant’s yell,–

The desert’s hair-grown hermit sunk
The saner brute below;
The naked Santon, hashish-drunk,
The cloister madness of the monk,
The fakir’s torture-show!

And yet the past comes round again,
And new doth old fulfil;
In sensual transports wild as vain
We brew in many a Christian fane
The heathen Soma still!

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

Bernhard Severin Ingemann

As wide as the skies is Thy mercy, O God;

Thy faithfulness shieldeth creation.

Thy bounteous hand from the mountains abroad

Is stretched over country and nation.

Like heaven’s embrace is Thy mercy, O Lord;

In judgment profound Thou appearest.

Thou savest our souls through Thy life-giving word,

The cries of Thy children Thou hearest.

How precious Thy goodness, O Father above,

Where children of men are abiding.

Thou spreadest through darkness the wings of Thy love;

We under their pinions are hiding.

For languishing souls Thou preparest a rest;

The quivering dove Thou protectest;

Thou givest us being, eternal and blest,

In mercy our life Thou perfectest.

Trans. Rev Paulson

Spreading through darkness the wings of love is such a beautiful expression. I can imagine white wings cutting through the dark clouds, slashing away the gloom. What an uplifting hymn!

Ambrosius Stub

Undismayed by any fortune

Life may have in store for me,

This, whatever be my portion,

I will always try to be.

If I but in grace abide,

Undismayed whate’er betide.

Undismayed when others harry

Mind and soul with anxious care;

If the Lord with me will tarry,

All my troubles disappear.

If I but in grace abide,

Undismayed whate’er betide.

Undismayed when others sighing,

Quail before the evil day,

On God’s grace I am relying;

Nothing can me then dismay.

If I but in grace abide,

Undismayed whate’er betide.

Undismayed when others fearing,

See the hour of death draw nigh.

With the victor’s crown appearing,

Why should I repine and sigh.

If I but in grace abide,

Undismayed whate’er betide.

Dearest Lord, if I may treasure

Thy abundant grace each day,

I shall cherish Thy good pleasure,

Be my portion what it may.

If I but in grace abide,

Undismayed whate’er betide.

Undismayed is such a provocative word, it immediately makes one smile.

In grace abide

Nicolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig

My spirit opened its eyes,

Saw itself on the brink of the abyss,

Searched with trembling and fear

Everywhere for a power to save,

And found God in all things,

Found Him in the songs of the poets,

Found Him in the work of the sages,

Found Him in the myths of the North,

Found Him in the records of history,

But clearest of all it still

Found Him in the Book of Books.

~~~

Jesus, the name without compare;

Honored on earth and in heaven,

Wherein the Father’s love and care

Are to His children now given.

Saviour of all that saved would be,

Fount of salvation full and free

Is the Lord Jesus forever.

Jesus, the name alone on earth

For our salvation afforded.

So on His cross of precious worth

Is in His blood it recorded.

Only in that our prayers are heard,

Only in that when hearts are stirred

Doth now the Spirit us comfort.

Jesus, the name above the sky

Wherein, when seasons are ended,

Peoples shall come to God on high,

And every knee shall be bended,

While all the saved in sweet accord

Chorus the praise of Christ, the Lord,

Savior beloved by the Father.

~~~

Hail Thee, Savior and Atoner!

Though the world Thy name dishonor,

Moved by love my heart proposes

To adorn Thy cross with roses

And to offer praise to Thee.

O what moved Thee so to love us,

When enthroned with God above us,

That for us Thou all wouldst offer

And in deep compassion suffer

Even death that we might live.

Love alone Thy heart was filling

When to suffer Thou wert willing.

Rather givest Thou than takest,

Hence, O Savior, Thou forsakest

All to die in sinner’s place.

Ah, my heart in deep contrition

Now perceives its true condition,

Cold and barren like a mountain,

How could I deserve the fountain

Of Thy love, my Savior dear.

Yet I know that from thy passion

Flows a river of salvation

Which can bid the mountain vanish,

Which can sin and coldness banish,

And restore my heart in Thee.

[135]

Lord, with tears I pray Thee ever:

Lead into my heart that river,

Which with grace redeeming cleanses

Heart and soul of all offences,

Blotting out my guilt and shame.

Lord, Thy life for sinners giving,

Let in Thee me find my living

So for Thee my heart is beating,

All my thoughts in Thee are meeting,

Finding there their light and joy.

Though all earthly things I cherish

Like the flowers may fade and perish,

Thou, I know, wilt stand beside me;

And from death and judgment hide me;

Thou hast paid the wage of sin.

Yes, my heart believes the wonder

Of Thy cross, which ages ponder!

Shield me, Lord, when foes assail me,

Be my staff when life shall fail me;

Take me to Thy Paradise.

Of all the Danish hymnwriters I encountered in this brief study, Grundtvig is my favourite. I will never be able to pronounce his name but I can sing his hymns with joy:

So for Thee my heart is beating

Oh to be able to write like that!

Der Schmale Weg Ist Breit Genug zum Leben

The narrow way is wide enough to heaven

For those who walk straight-forward and with care

And take each step with watchfulness and prayer.

When we are by the Spirit driven,

The narrow way is wide enough to heaven.

The way of God is full of grace and beauty

For those who unto Him in faith have turned

And have His way with love and ardor learned.

When we accept His call and duty,

The way of God is full of grace and beauty.

The yoke of God is not too hard to carry

For those who love His blessed will and way

And shall their carnal pride in meekness slay.

When we with Him in faith will tarry,

The yoke of God is not too hard to carry.

O Jesus, help me Thy blest way to follow.

Thou knowest best my weak and fainting heart

And must not let me from Thy way depart.

I shall Thy name with praises hallow,

If Thou wilt help me Thy blest way to follow.

by Christian Friedrich Richter trans. H. A. Brorson

Kingo’s Easter Hymn

Like the golden sun ascending

In the darkly clouded sky

And on earth its glory spending

Until clouds and darkness fly,

So my Jesus from the grave,

From death’s dark, abysmal cave,

Rose triumphant Easter morning,

Brighter than the sun returning.

Thanks, O thanks, to Thee arisen

Lord and God Immanuel,

That the foe could not imprison

Thee within his hell-dark cell.

Thanks that Thou didst meet our foe

And his kingdom overthrow.

Jubilant my spirit raises

New Thy never ending praises.

Sin and death and every arrow

Satan hence may point at me

Fall now broken at the narrow

Tomb that saw Thy victory;

There Thou didst them all destroy

Giving me the cup of joy

That Thou glorious resurrection

Wrought my pardon and protection.

Thou wilt hence to life awake me

By Thy resurrection power;

Death may wound and overtake me,

Worms my flesh and bones devour,

But I face the threat of death

With the sure and joyful faith

That its fearful reign was ended

When Thy might its portal rended.

Blessed Jesus, let the Spirit

So imbue my heart with grace

That I walk by Thy blest merit

And no more the way retrace

To the vile and miry pit

Where I lay condemned, unfit,

Till redeemed to life victorious

By Thy resurrection glorious.

By Thomas Kingo (trans. J.C. Aaberg)

All Grown Up

When did it happen?

The imperceptible move

From fun to serious

From playing in the snow

To looking at the harsh weather from the window

From shuffling through leaves

To thinking of insurable accidents

From forgetting my coat

To remembering hat, scarf and mittens

When did it happen?

Because inside my head I still…

Throw snowballs at my boo

Jump up to touch rainbows

Run through fields of dew laden grass

Dive into water no matter what the degree.

Sukey Mackie

rainbow girl.jpg